IFAW: Cruel video from Canada’s 2011 seal hunt proves size doesn’t matter

Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org) has released new video footage from Canada’s 2011 commercial seal hunt showing clear examples of deliberate cruelty, inhumane killing practices and violations of the Marine Mammal Regulations, despite the relatively small size of the hunt this year.

Fewer than 50 boats participated in the 2011 seal hunt, and only 38,000 seals have been reported killed with a landed value of under $750,000.  In spite of a smaller-scale hunt, the video evidence confirms that the Canadian government and the sealing industry continue to ignore concerns about inhumane killing raised by the European Union, and that the few existing regulations are impossible for authorities to enforce.

“Many sealers appear quite comfortable ignoring the regulations and conducting cruel and inhumane killing, even when they are aware of being observed” said Sheryl Fink, Director of IFAW’s Seal Program and witness to the 2011 commercial seal hunt off the coast of Newfoundland.

“Our video shows sealers engaging in practices such as intentionally killing a protected blueback seal and spearing a live, conscious seal pup in the face with a steel hook as it tries to defend itself. In one instance, a seal pup was sliced open while alive and left to suffer in the bottom of a boat for several minutes” said Fink.

“These inexcusable activities, and the fact that they occur year after year, offer further proof that commercial sealing is inhumane regardless of how many seals are killed or how few sealers participate” continued Fink.

The video evidence reinforces IFAW’s position that trade bans on seal products are not only justified, but absolutely necessary.  Such examples of cruelty are the primary reason for the European Union ban on the sale of seal products from commercial hunts and why consumers around the world are increasingly rejecting seal products.

IFAW will be providing the video evidence to political leaders in Canada, the EU, and around the world as evidence that commercial sealing remains an inhumane, unnecessary and outdated practice that should be stopped.

“Although this year’s hunt is the smallest since 1993, the government-funded seal slaughter continues to be a cruel and colossal waste of Canadians’ tax dollars.  All the subsidies in the world will not make this hunt humane. The commercial seal hunt will continue to tarnish Canada’s reputation for as long as it continues” concluded Fink.

The video captured by IFAW during the 2011 commercial seal hunt can be viewed at http://www.ifaw.org/seals

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