Canada's 2008 commercial seal hunt starts today - 275,000 harp seal pups are targeted for slaughter

Friday, March 28, 2008
Charlottetown, Canada
A team of observers with IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) is set to document the commercial seal hunt as it opens today in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada.
Canada’s commercial seal hunt is the largest hunt for marine mammals in the world. Hunters are allowed to kill pups as soon as they begin to molt their white coats, which occurs when the animals are about two weeks old.
 
“In spite of the fact that the DFO has refused to issue observation permits for the opening day of the annual slaughter, I have no doubt that the world will be watching closely.” said Sheryl Fink, senior researcher and veteran seal hunt observer with IFAW. “Unfortunately, I think this year’s hunt will be ‘business as usual’ here in Canada. I don’t expect to see any improvement in the way animals are killed, or in the way this hunt is monitored.”
 
Sealers compete to make their quotas in unpredictable conditions—shifting ice, high winds, freezing temperatures and unpredictable seas—all of which make it extremely difficult to execute a so-called ‘humane’ kill.
 
International opposition to Canada’s commercial seal hunt has grown considerably in the last year. Belgium and the Netherlands have both banned the import of all seal-derived products and Germany and Austria have also taken steps to shut down markets. Currently, the European Union is on the verge of deciding if a ban on seal products will blanket all member nations.
 
“Europe is on the brink of banning this cruel and unsustainable hunt, said Robbie Marsland, IFAW’s seal program director and UK country director.  “Canadians against the hunt are starting to stand up and be counted. IFAW is here to turn the spotlight on the grim reality that appalls Canadians and Europeans alike.  Together we can stop the horror. Canada is better than this.”
 
“Even though a huge government delegation is now in Europe promoting this indefensible seal hunt, I am confident that once again the evidence will speak for itself.  The cruelty of Canada’s commercial seal hunt is undeniable.” added Fink.
 
Canada has allowed over one million seals to be killed in the past four years. This year’s quota for 275,000 seals makes it the fifth consecutive year in which the government quota has exceeded the amount of seals that can be safely removed without causing the population to decline.
 
To learn more about IFAW’s efforts to end the Canadian commercial seal hunt, visit www.stopthesealhunt.org today.

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