Norwegian Sealers Fined for Animal Welfare Abuses

Thursday, March 11, 2010
Brussels, Belgium
Norwegian police yesterday issued fines for animal welfare abuses to a ship owner and the ship’s captain. The abuses took place during the Norwegian seal hunt in the spring of 2009.

The fines were for a number of different offences including hooking seals without first ensuring that the seals were dead.

The fines themselves totaled 70 000 NOK (€8 700) for the ship’s owner and 30 000 NOK (€3 700) for the ship’s captain. The size of the fines was due to the fact that both the captain and owner had been fined in 2005 for similar offences.

The fines will likely be contested and the matter is expected to go to court.

“While it is laudable that the authorities are taking action the repeated nature of these fines shows that commercial hunting is done at such a speed and in such difficult conditions that animal welfare is almost invariably compromised,” said Lesley O’Donnell, IFAW EU Director. “The Norwegian government lavishes large sums of money subsidizing this 19th century industry that the rest of the world finds absolutely abhorrent.”

While Norwegian sealing practices are under investigation in Norway the fate of seal pups in Canada is at risk. Poor ice conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence mean that potentially thousands of seals could perish before the commercial seal hunt even begins.

This is the last year of commercial hunting in Canada and Norway before the EU seal ban comes into effect this summer. Both countries have recently launched WTO challenges against the EU seal ban. Initial consultations have occurred and it is now up to those two countries to either proceed to a panel or conclude that there’s no need for an international hearing on the senseless violence, inherent cruelty and economic unimportance of commercial sealing.

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