IFAW wonders: What report did Canadian Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn read?

The statement by Canadian Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn that the scientific opinion of the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) somehow “upholds the legitimacy and humaneness of hunting practices and techniques” used in Canada’s commercial seal hunt is a blatant misrepresentation of the EFSA report.

In fact, Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations, which govern hunting practices in Canada’s commercial seal hunt, are shown by the EFSA to be severely deficient when it comes to humane killing. For example:

EFSA Recommendation: Seals should be bled-out as soon as possible and, preferably immediately, after they have been successfully stunned and checked to ensure they are irreversibly unconscious or dead.

Truth: Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations do not require bleeding-out to be conducted after stunning.  Consequently, seal hunt observers have documented numerous cases of injured, conscious seals stockpiled and suffering on the ice.

EFSA Recommendation: Seals should not be moved, i.e. gaffed [hooked], hauled, or moved… until it has been confirmed that they are dead or irreversibly unconscious.

Truth: Under the current Canadian legislation, it is legal to hook seals before they have been checked for unconscousness or death. The hooking of live and conscious seals in Canada’s commercial seal hunt has been recorded on numerous occasions.

Perhaps the most shocking truth is that both of these recommendations were at one time required under Canadian legislation, but subsequently removed. The reality is that when it comes to humane killing practices, Canadian legislation has actually been moving backwards.

Further, if Minister Hearn had actually read the EFSA opinion, he would know that the “potentially unproven biases” referred to by the Panel are actually those that err in favour of sealers. These include the fact that sealers are likely to alter their behaviour when they are aware that their practices are being observed and recorded, and the reality that observers are only able to document the hunt during weather conditions that are optimal for sealers. As a result, the EFSA report notes that observations by groups such as IFAW and others are likely to represent “best practices.”

It is time for Loyola Hearn to admit what the EFSA report makes clear: Canada’s commercial seal hunt does not meet modern scientific standards of humane killing.  This hunt is an embarassment to Canadians - the majority of whom oppose its continuation – and should be ended.

Sheryl Fink

Senior Research and Projects Specialist

International Fund for Animal Welfare

Comments: 26

9 years ago

Matt, you must read correct.
I wrote...in a few years no on needs fur anymore..., not "clothes"....
Fur belongs to the animals !!!!
I don't have joy to lead an endless discussion, while a lot of baby seals were just brutally killed ...
Our informations from seriousmedias and what we see with our own eyes cannot be disputed.
And we are neither blind nor stupid.
I#m not alone with this knowledge...there are also lots of your neighbours in from the USA..

9 years ago

Okay, so you're telling me in a few years the whole world will be so hot nobody will need to wear coats.
That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. Climate change is indeed real, but most major effects would be taking place in 50+ years from now. Even then, nowhere has anybody said the world will get too hot for clothes... that's idiotic.
So, stupid reasoning aside, you're also saying that one seal having to suffer is too much for humanity?
By god, look at all the suffering in the world! How many insects have you killed in your life? How much meat have you eaten! It's IMPOSSIBLE to guarantee that every single thing in this world will live and die a painless existence. If you're that idealistic then move to China, I heard they have this great system called communism that's supposed to be a utopia where everybody is happy. Oh right, idealism has been proven wrong time and time again.
I said nothing about seals eating all the fish. They also eat predators of codfish and so tend to have balanced impact on the ecosystem provided they don't get out of control in terms of population. However, are you suggesting we should let them grow to the point they eat all their food and starve to death? Are you protestors going to go out and feed the ten million seals that will be there at that point? I think not. What do you think involves more suffering? A ten second death or a weeklong starvation? Open your eyes to the way of nature and realize that it's all about pain and suffering. Hunters don't, never have, and never will kill for pleasure. They do it to live themselves.
You are very ignorant and I hope you will eventually stop believing all the propaganda that drives donation money.

9 years ago

It makes no difference to me wheter these organizations want donations or not.
The fact is, that they are showing the truth.
And also you cannot contest, that the seal"hunt" is a barbaric killing.
And only ONE seal that dies in this way is ONE to much !!!
The pretext, that the seals are eating all the fish away is so few and far between.
And you know about the change of climate.
In a few years nobody neads fur anymore, because it's to hot.
But I#m sure there will be always seal- babykillers who are going on killing only for fun.
What's about the grey seals in nova scotia ???

9 years ago

I can't. But at the same time, videos of a couple seals suffering proves nothing either. What if those few seals were the only ones that didn't die a quick humane death?
The point is nobody can truly judge how many seals are really suffering unless they've been out there themselves, or read PEER-REVIEWED STUDIES!
NOT groups with vested interest in having videos of suffering. Are you honestly going to tell me that IFAW wouldn't do that for more money? Or HSUS or PETA? Honestly?

9 years ago

Then bring proofs, matt...,that the seal hunt is harmless and human.
The pictures and videos we all can see are not fakes and ifaw and hsus are nit the only organizations who can document that (see also Franz Weber foundation Schweiz)and RTL, Pro 7 germany.

9 years ago

No Nina you've seen selected clips of what IFAW wants to show you. You haven't seen everything at all.
I could videotape one side of a war and show you the worst, most brutal parts of it on that side. Then I could say that it's all their fault. Nevermind that viewing the entire war might lead you to conclude that it was equally both sides' fault, and that bad things happened on both sides. Sure some seals might suffer but nobody has shown us a full movie of a lot of deaths - only the ones in the most pain are shown to boost donations! What about the Sea Shepherds trying to sink ships? No that's ok because they're 'saving the world' right?

9 years ago

Jordan, in germany we say ." other countries - other custums (andere Länder - andere Sitten).
Every country or every nation has it's own or another mentality.
But that's no justification to kill animal babys (here: baby seals) in so cruel and brutal ways.
Of course,..you Canadians say...the seal hunt is an old or has an old tradition and other countrys don't understand that.
But where are your hearts ?
You must accept, what we in other countries notice.
It is not cool, to be brutal and cruel.
I cannot understand this behaviour and I'm not alone with this opinion.
I'm working since 20 years as a female prison guard in different man jails. There were lots of murderes and violence criminals (felons), as well I had in this job to do with members from the HELLS ANGELS and BANDIDOS.
The most of all these criminals had murdered, but no one, no one of these (over 1.000) had ever killed a baby.
The code of honour of all these men is never to kill a baby or an helpless creature.
And there is NO difference wheter it's a human baby or an animal baby.
Killing and torturing a helpless innocent creature is'nt masculine and it isn't cool.
And we women can estimate that !!!
It is disgusting and deterrent or do you mean, a woman like Pamela Anderson would admire that ?
If you are a sealer, then I hope you are not so as we have seen the brutaly and cruelty against the little seals with our own eyes.

9 years ago

Personally. I think seal is great, we eat it all the time and the fur keeps us warm 10 months of the year and for the short season of hunting, my account does pretty well to!! So why would I want this to stop? My family has been at this for the last 500 years and roughly the last 20 years people have been protesting it. We dont get our food delivered all year round on trucks in cute little trays, we hunt and gather for the most part and and when theres a dollar to be made from the coat we sure will take it!, we arent stupid. I know people who have went to Brroks alberta and worked at the slaughter houses and seen how those cows are killed, they get a bolt drove in their brain and the gut removed while the cow still kicks, the only difference there are 4 walls around it and it the public are none the wiser. What it boils down to is ignorance, people who watch the sun rise over buildings and have no idea what its like to live on an island in the middle of the north atlantic. Its a way of life and we are damn proud of it! we are as free as the wind and we will continue to use our resources as we see fit. The canadian government have already taken so much from us like the fishery they destroyed and the oil and nickel that just gets shipped out of our province.... but I wont get into that, thats another story all together

9 years ago

What is the effect of killing upon the human spirit?
The effect of killing on the human spirit generates conflict within all of us as it clearly violates our mass agreements of which we are finally becoming aware of.

10 years ago

Tamara, I agree. Mostly.
I don't know exactly how much cod or anything else seals eat. I know that seals didn't decimate cod in the first place--overfishing did--but that too many seals could keep them from ever coming back.
And although there are indeed plenty of people out to defend other animals, seals do have a special power that way, and many who oppose the hunt have no problem with the killing of animals that were "bred to be eaten."
Where you're really right, though, is that simply trying to force an end the hunt is not a solution. We must first understand why it happens now and what will happen if it's gone. What will replace it in a place where employment is already scarce?
Now, for all of you. Tim called sealers "uneducated coastal people." Many call them worse. I call them tough, proud humans abandoned by the greedy governments who tore their province apart, and not keen on listening to people who gave a hoot. I dare you to go to Newfoundland and talk with sealers (as I have)and think otherwise.
I do not like the seal hunt. I want it to end. But I draw the line at boycotting seafood, and I will never call sealers monsters or anything of the sort.
Everyone's entitled to their opinion. I only beg that you try to really understand an issue before forming yours.

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