Canada’s 2009 commercial seal hunt opens today – the world watches as 280,000 baby seals are set to die

Monday, March 23, 2009
(Charlottetown, Canada – 23 March 2009) – A team of observers with IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) is ready 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. Sealers are allowed to kill 280,000 harp seal pups this year, provided they have begun to moult their white coats, which occurs when the animals are about two weeks old.

“It’s preposterous that the Canadian government insists on moving forward with this hunt.” said Sheryl Fink, a senior researcher with IFAW. “In the midst of intense European and Canadian opposition, dwindling markets and low pelt prices, it’s apparent the government’s insistence on continuing this slaughter is based solely on politics not reason.”

Canada moves forward with its seal hunt just days after Russia decided to close its own hunt in the White Sea indefinitely.  Worldwide intolerance for commercial seal hunts has continued to escalate during the past year, and in a few short weeks the European Parliament will decide if a trade ban on seal products will be implemented in all member nations.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “The world will be intensely watching this year’s hunt and I am confident that once again the evidence will speak for itself.  The cruelty of Canada’s commercial seal hunt is undeniable.”

Sealers compete among each other to reach their quotas in unpredictable conditions—shifting ice, high winds, freezing temperatures and volatile seas—all of which make it extremely difficult to execute a so-called ‘humane’ kill.

Canada has allowed over one million seals to be killed in the past four years. According to Canadian government scientists, this year’s quota for 280,000 seals does not respect the current seal hunt management plan, and is expected to decrease the population by more than 30 percent.

To learn more about IFAW’s efforts to end the Canadian commercial seal hunt, visit www.stopthesealhunt.org today.

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