Canada kills 250,000 seal pups in annual hunt

Thursday, April 21, 2005
Charlottetown, Canada
As the Canadian commercial seal hunt draws to an end, IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org), today estimated a quarter of a million (250,000) harp seal pups have been cruelly slaughtered in only 10 days of hunting.
The government sanctioned commercial hunt for seal pups opened in the Gulf of St Lawrence on 29 March 2005 and closed on 2 April 2005 resulting in the deaths of approximately 100,000 seal pups. On 15 April the hunt then moved on to the “Front” off the coast of Newfoundland where it continues with an estimated 150,000 harp seals already slaughtered.

Canada’s annual commercial seal hunt is the largest marine mammal hunt in the world. The quota for this year’s hunt is 319,500 seals, set as part of a three-year government “management” plan to kill almost one million (975,000) seals. Seals are killed and skinned for their pelts, which are then sold to fur distributors and the fashion industry.

“Many people mistakenly think Canada stopped hunting baby seals decades ago,” said Fred O’Regan, IFAW’s president and CEO. “But the size of Canada’s modern, commercial hunt is as big now as it has been in 50 years. It’s time the Canadian government ended this cruel and unsustainable cull - there should be no further quota.”

The international community is appalled by the cruelty of Canada’s hunt for baby seals. In opposition, parliamentarians from Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands are working to create legislation to ban seal products and the U.S. and the European Council are creating resolutions condemning the hunt. In the U.S., seals and other marine mammals have been protected from hunting since 1972 under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

As part of the campaign to end the Canadian commercial seal hunt, IFAW has brought media and government officials from around the world to view the hunt firsthand. This year, European parliamentarians and media from Canada and around the globe have observed the hunt with IFAW’s help. IFAW hunt monitors work to strict rules laid down by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), but while observing the hunt this year, IFAW monitors were physically attacked and verbally threatened by some sealers on the ice. IFAW condemns the use of violence against its staff and also condemns the use of violence to further animal welfare campaigns.   

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