IFAW documents hunting activity on opening day of Canada's commercial seal hunt – new bleeding requirement ignored

Friday, 28 March, 2008
Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
Observers with IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) have just returned after witnessing the first slaughter of harp seal pups during this year’s commercial seal hunt.
The team observed and documented sealers on the ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence hunting with hakapiks on the opening day of the hunt.
“We witnessed today a classic example of the cruelty associated with this hunt. We filmed as a sealer struck a seal with a hakapik before it slipped into the water. The sealer tried to pull the seal out by the hind flippers but it slipped underwater anyway,” said Cheryl Jacobson, hunt observer with IFAW. “This wounded seal will most likely die underwater and unbelievably, that kill won’t even be counted in the official catch number.”
In a desperate attempt to convince European policy-makers that the seal hunt is humane, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has instituted a new condition of license requiring sealers to bleed out seals before moving them. Today’s footage shows that sealers are not complying with this new rule and cruelty is continuing.
“We’ve just filmed four seals being killed and not a single one was bled out before moving it,” said Sheryl Fink, hunt observer and senior researcher with IFAW. “If the DFO is serious about the new condition of license I expect to see them take action on this.”
“Based on what we’ve seen today, it’s ‘business as usual’ here in Canada,” added Fink. “The rush to club as many seals as possible in a short period of time, combined with the slippery ice conditions means that once again, animal welfare takes a back seat to profit.”
This hunt for harp seal pups is the largest hunt for a marine mammal in the world, with this year’s commercial total allowable catch limit set at an unsustainable 275,000 seals.
To learn more about IFAW’s efforts to end the Canadian commercial seal hunt, visit www.stopthesealhunt.org today.

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