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April 9, 2011

Seals May Not Have Long to Live

We stand ready to show the world the sealing industry's atrocities

Humane Society International/Canada

  • ragged jacket seal pup

    Seals like this one will suffer grisly deaths on Monday morning. Kathy Milani/HSUS

by Rebecca Aldworth

On Monday, half an hour before dawns, the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth—Canada's commercial seal hunt—is set to begin.

The Protect Seals team is here, ready to expose the cruelty of this Canadian government-sanctioned carnage. We are doing so on behalf of the overwhelming majority of Canadians and people around the world who oppose it.

The anticipation is awful. Sealing boats are getting ready to leave their ports, to set a deadly course for what remains of the harp seal nursery. And I know that for now, there is nothing we can do to stop them. But bleak though that fact may be, there is reason for hope.

Help stop the slaughter

The United States and European Union—the two largest trading regions in the world—have already banned seal product trade, and many nations are considering following suit. Not surprisingly, prices for seal fur remains low, and many vessels have chosen not to participate in the slaughter as a result.

So even with a record high quota of 468,200 authorized by a conscienceless Canadian government, the sealers know there is nowhere near the demand for that number of seal skins. They also know they won't be able to find that many pups to kill.

Relentless exploitation

The worst sea ice formation on record has caused mass mortality for the seal pups off Canada's eastern coast. A Canadian government scientist reportedly estimated that half of the baby seals born in Atlantic Canada this year would perish because of the ice disaster.

Unbelievably, the sealing industry is set on claiming the lives of the surviving pups. It is this kind of relentless exploitation by the fishing industry that drove the cod stocks to commercial extinction, and devastated the marine ecosystem of the northwest Atlantic. Apparently, the lessons of history mean little here.

They do elsewhere. Slowly but surely, the world community is saying no to the continuation of this outdated, cruel, and unsustainable slaughter. As borders close to seal products and nations end their own seal slaughters, the world is moving beyond commercial sealing.

But until Canada does as well, the Protect Seals team will be here, to show the world exactly what the Canadian government is willing to turn a blind eye to.

Say "stop the seal slaughter" in a way Canada will understand. Take action for seals.

Rebecca Aldworth is executive director of Humane Society International/Canada (HSI Canada).

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