With Lack of Ice and Increased Quotas, Seal Pups Cling to Whatever They Can

A harp seal awaits an uncertain fate in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. - Photo credit - IFAW/Stewart Cook - 2011

The International Fund for Animal Welfare seal team is on Canada’s East Coast to document the opening of the 2011 commercial seal hunt. Some of the worst ice conditions on record in the Gulf of St Lawrence mean that few pups are expected to survive their first weeks of life. Sadly, Canada’s Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced an increased allowable catch of 400,000 this year, assuring that any surviving pups can be slaughtered for their fur.

Today’s ice map does not offer much hope that there is any ice left for seal pups.  The hunt has opened earlier than usual this year, with most pups still at a whitecoat or ragged jacket stage. Normally the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) does not open the hunt until the vast majority of pups are at the beater stage.

We discovered that once again this year, seal pups were on the beaches of PEI so we went to take a look. A short flight away, we found the seal pups we were looking for on the windswept beaches. They were mostly whitecoat harp seal pups, and a few ragged jackets, basking in the sun and sleeping peacefully even though we were freezing from the cold.  Seemingly oblivious to our presence, we snapped a few photos.

Two things seemed clear after our first day at the hunt. First, climate change is having an impact on harp seal habitat and pup survival. It seems unlikely that any of the remaining pups in the Gulf will survive. And second, it is apparent that commercial sealing is a doomed industry.  Sealers are staying home not because of the lack of ice and seal pups, but also because there are no buyers for pelts in the area.

Despite the lack of demand for seal products, the federal government continues to promise the commercial seal hunt as some sort of magical cure that will provide future economic opportunities to East Coast communities. But it seems obvious that nothing could be further from the truth.  With no ice, no seals, and no markets… there will be no commercial seal hunt.

So why are Canadian politicians leading people to believe otherwise?

-- SF

Take action for harp seals now at http://www.ifaw.org/seals

Comments: 8

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

no pups arekilled

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I am extremely new to this knowledge and am mortified, Thia is not humanity, it is total INSANITY. God help these crazed murders out for sport in the cruelest fashion I've had the misfortune to hear about when they meet their maker or even better perhaps karma will arrive first, they will pay. Obviously they have no conscience, human dignity, empaty, sympathy only greed.
For the first time in my life I am ashamed to admit that NFLD blood runs through my veins. My mother was born and raised there and I alway's thought they were such a kind and warmth about them. My opinion has changed forever. It's tatally ludicris that this should be going on in this day and age. What's it going to take?

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Either the general Canadian population must be the one of the most apathetic peoples on Earth regarding this issue, or the Canadian government has far too much power in deciding this abomination should continue year after year. I would hope it is the latter!

What is wrong with them? Are they afraid to make the hard decision and would rather appease a small minority so they can continue carrying out one of the most cruel practices performed on living creatures? If it were done to humans, it would be a crime against humanity. Legal people in the know should get together to establish a precedent for a crime against nature.

Without meaning to be sexist, aren't Canadian women totally offended that a female Canadian minister is partly responsible for allowing the hunt to continue? She obviously doesn't have a nurturing bone in her body. If she has children, I wonder how she would explain it to them?

How many seal pups will suffer sad and painful deaths today Canada? When will it cease?

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

[...] hovering around $20, the economic benefit from seal hunting is virtually nonexistent. But with a total allowable catch of 400,000 seal pups for this year, and with rumours that two Newfoundland seal processors have agreed to purchase 80,000 skins, we [...]

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

i hope the hunters fall through the ice.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

The CANADIAN government should be ashamed of themselves. I am ashamed to be Canadian! I am outraged that the message is clear - SAVE AND PROTECT OUR ENVIRONMENT. Focusing on the mighty dollar and putting our environment at risk and savagely abusing these stunning and precious animals (that are struggling enough as it is, bc of climate change) is a reflection of our truly barbaric, primitive and stupid we are. We need to focus our energy on keeping our environment CLEAN, protecting our animals, keeping them safe, protecting the land that sustains them, and in turn this protects us, as a human species. Whether you are an animal lover or not, whether you appreciate the environment or not, you NEED the land, the air, the trees....everything it provides us with to SURVIVE. NOW is the time to be proactive before it is too late. I dont want to be part of a world where children ask their parents- what happened to the clean air, what happened to the beautiful seal pups, and what happened to the freshwater? What does that say for us? It says that we were so blinded by money and greed, and selfishness that we have lost or are losing our "humanity"?

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Leave the seals alone!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

If there is no ice, there should be no seal hunt. The Canadian government has consistently refused to consider climate change and the diminishment of ice as a factor in setting kill quotas. It is certain that if this trend continues, all ice-dependant animals will face a grim future. Canada has a long history of mismanaging marine ecosystems, yielding to the short-term interests of the fishing and sealing industries at great cost to marine life and to the increasing disdain of the international community.
Many of the seal pups born this year, on ice-free shorelines, may now fall prey to predators. It seems inscrutable that these seal pups, are still being hunted when they face such threats. The Government of Canada appears to be deliberately intent upon exterminating the north Atlantic seal herds.

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