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October 27, 2009

Humane Society International/Canada Condemns Nova Scotia Government's Move to Open Protected Wilderness Area to Commercial Seal Slaughter

Humane Society International/Canada

Humane Society International/Canada condemns the Nova Scotia legislature’s announced proposed revisions to the Wilderness Areas Protection Act that would allow the Minister of Environment to officially authorize the commercial slaughter of baby seals on Hay Island, which is a part of the protected Scaterie Island Wilderness Area.

"This move to legitimize the clubbing of baby seals in a provincial park is a betrayal of all Nova Scotians," said Rebecca Aldworth, director of HSI Canada. "The Canadian fishing industry is already feeling the effects of a boycott of Canadian seafood in the United States and Europe that will continue until the commercial seal slaughter is ended for good. I can guarantee the heartbreaking images of baby grey seals beaten to death with wooden bats on Hay Island will convince many more businesses and individuals to avoid buying seafood from Nova Scotia."

The Humane Society of the United States launched the Canadian seafood boycott in the United States in 2005. To date, the ProtectSeals boycott has gained the support of more than 5,500 establishments and 650,000 individuals. While many of the companies are currently avoiding seafood from Newfoundland because of its role in the harp seal kill, Nova Scotia's increasing involvement in commercial sealing will likely cause businesses to expand their boycott to  seafood from Nova Scotia.

In the past two years, the Nova Scotia government has authorized sealers to club thousands of baby grey seals to death on Hay Island for their fur. Animal protection groups argue that Hay Island, as a part of the Scaterie Island Wilderness Area, is subject to the Nova Scotia Wilderness Areas Protection Act, which states: "Within the wilderness area, no person shall… remove, destroy or damage any natural object, flora or fauna, whether living or dead."  The Nova Scotia government is attempting to revise its own legislation to legitimize this commercial slaughter in a protected area.

Over the past two years, representatives from Humane Society International/Canada and the Atlantic Canadian Anti-Sealing Coalition have documented the cruel clubbing of baby seals for their fur on Hay Island. Observers filmed and photographed as hunters herded seal pups, mothers and newborn seals into groups. Sealers clubbed moulted pups inches away from newborns and their mothers. Video and still images from the 2008 grey seal slaughter are available for media download.

In 2008, using wooden bats and crude cutting implements, including box cutters, commercial sealers clubbed and skinned more than 1,200 seal pups in just days, leaving almost no pups alive on Hay Island.

Grey seals have been subjected to extreme overhunting in the past two centuries, and by 1949 were thought to have been wiped out (extirpated) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. While the population has slowly begun to recover, fishing-industry lobby groups have repeatedly pressured for a cull of grey seals despite any evidence to suggest such a move is necessary.


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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than ten million members and constituents globally—on the web at hsicanada.ca


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