Canadian Senator introduces groundbreaking legislation to end the commercial seal hunt

Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Ottawa, Canada
The International Fund for Animal Welfare has applauded a private member’s bill introduced today by Senator Mac Harb calling for an end to Canada’s commercial seal hunt. This marks the first time a Canadian politician has introduced legislation to put an end to the largest remaining marine mammal slaughter in the world.

“This is truly a historic moment – a moment that marks the beginning of the inevitable end to Canada’s commercial seal hunt,” said Sheryl Fink, a senior researcher with IFAW. “Senator Harb has shown incredible leadership and courage by speaking out on behalf of the majority of Canadians on this issue.”

The bill is an amendment to the Fisheries Act and would prohibit the commercial hunting of seals in Canadian waters, while protecting the rights of aboriginal peoples to hunt seals.

“We hope that the Harb Seal Bill will initiate a widespread public debate that will eventually result in a legislative end to Canada’s cruel and wasteful commercial seal hunt”, said Dr. David Lavigne, Science Advisor at IFAW, “Senator Harb has gone to great lengths to protect the rights and interests of Canadian Inuit and other aboriginal peoples.”

The introduction of the bill is supported by recent public opinion polls that indicate the majority of Canadians continue to oppose the commercial seal hunt and would like to see it ended. It also arrives at a time when the sealing industry is in economic turmoil. Seal pelt prices are expected to drop yet again this year, with very little worldwide demand for seal fur, and the European Union considering a trade ban on all non-aboriginal seal products.

“For the government of Canada to continue defending the commercial seal hunt is not the answer,” said Senator Mac Harb. “We can’t go on burying our heads in the sand and pretending everything is going to be okay. It is time to provide mechanisms to transition the few thousand individuals in sealing out of this declining industry and into jobs with more promising futures.”

In a few short weeks, Canada’s commercial seal hunt will begin off the east coast of Canada. Last year over 217,000 seals were killed, 99.8% of which were pups under three months old.

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

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