IFAW: Fisheries Minister sacrifices seals to win votes

Friday, March 25, 2011
Toronto, Canada
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW www.ifaw.org) is criticizing Canadian Fisheries Miniser Gail Shea for increasing the 2011 total allowable catch (TAC) of harp seals to 400,000, saying the increase is an obvious attempt to win votes in the run-up to an expected federal election.

IFAW calls the increase of 70,000 seals irresponsible and shortsighted, noting that seal pups are being threatened by some of the worst ice conditions on record and that global demand for seal products remains low.

“Yet again, the Minister of Fisheries appears to be completely out of touch with reality when it comes to Canada’s commercial seal hunt. An increase in the allowable catch is not supported by markets, by conservation science, nor by the majority of Canadians. The only ones who can possibly hope to benefit from an increase in the total allowable catch of seals are the politicians who falsely claim to be helping sealing communities,” said Sheryl Fink Director of IFAW’s Seal Program.

“I observed the harp seal herd in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence earlier this month, and there is no doubt in my mind that this species is being seriously affected by climate change. According to Environment Canada, ice conditions for the last two years are the worst on record, and just last week the Department of Fisheries and Oceans themselves warned the public about an expected increase in stranded and dead seal pups,” said Fink.

“Given the continued lack of demand for seal products, increasing the allowable catch will do absolutely nothing to help sealers and will only further tarnish Canada’s environmental reputation on the world stage,” Fink added.

The seal industry relies on millions of dollars in public funding and government support each year. The landed value of the commercial seal hunt last year was just over $1 million. A 2010 study found that ending the commercial seal hunt would save Canada at least $7 million each year.

IFAW is calling on the federal government to end the commercial seal hunt and to invest in alternatives for sealers and their communities, rather than wasting taxpayer dollars to prop up the cruel industry which negatively impacts our international reputation and trade in other areas.

 

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