Canada’s 2007 commercial seal hunt crawls to a halt – harp seal population undergoes another year of unnecessary hunting

Saturday, June 23, 2007
Ottawa, Canada
Today, the Canadian government will officially close its annual commercial hunt for harp seals, according to IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org). This year’s hunt, which opened amid controversy due to poor ice conditions and high pup mortality, will close several thousand animals short of the government’s allotted quota.
Statistics from Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) show that to date, 215,388 harp seals have been taken from the 270,000 harp seal quota for 2007. Final catch numbers will not be available until after the hunt closes and all pelts are counted.
 
“Based on our observation flights in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in March and April of this year, I’m not surprised that the sealers failed to fulfill their quota,” said Cheryl Jacobson, leader of IFAW’s Hunt Watch team.
 
“The lack of solid ice this spring meant that harp seal pups did not have the stable environment they require for survival, and many succumbed to natural mortality before the hunt even began,” she added.
 
Although the Canadian government estimates that 5% of seal pups struck on the ice with a club or bullet are “lost” (because they either escape or sink before they are recovered), “struck and lost” rates are thought to be as high as 50% when seals are shot in or near the water—which was certainly the case this year.
 
In addition to their prolonged and painful deaths, these seals are not recorded in the official catch statistics.
 
Throughout the past year, Canada has received sharp international criticism for the cruel, unsustainable and unnecessary commercial seal hunt. Several nations have taken action to stop the trade of seal products in Europe. Earlier this year, Belgium became the first EU nation to pass a national ban followed by Germany’s announcement to institute its own ban. IFAW continues to urge other governments as well as the European Parliament to close down markets for seal products.
 
To learn more about IFAW’s efforts to end the Canadian commercial seal hunt, visit www.stopthesealhunt.org today.

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Experts

Dr. Ralf (Perry) Sonntag, Country Director, Germany
Country Director, Germany
Sheryl Fink, Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Sonja Van Tichelen, Regional Director, European Union
Regional Director, European Union