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March 9, 2010

In Wake of Ecological Disaster, Call for Cancellation of 2010 Commercial Seal Slaughter

Record-low ice cover off Canada’s East Coast spells high mortality for harp seal pups.

Humane Society International/Canada

OTTAWA – Senator Mac Harb and Humane Society International/Canada are calling for the cancellation of the 2010 commercial seal hunt at a press conference Tuesday. A record-low sea ice formation off of Canada’s East Coast spells disaster for harp seals, the primary target of the commercial seal slaughter. Harp seals need the sea ice to give birth to and nurse their pups, and they need the ice to remain intact until their pups are strong enough to survive in open water. HSI showed video footage of the unprecedented lack of sea ice formation off of Canada’s east coast, and the plight of the few surviving seal pups.

“I’ve just returned from the Gulf of St. Lawrence where there was virtually no sea ice at all, and only a few seal pups clinging to the tiny pans of ice that were there,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “The world is watching Canada. If the 2010 commercial seal hunt is allowed to go on, it will be a merciless slaughter of the survivors.”

While Environment Canada says the unprecedented ice conditions are linked to the North Atlantic Oscillation, there is also long-term climate change related to global warming that is impacting ice conditions in the Arctic and subarctic seas. Off Canada’s East Coast, 21 of the past 40 years have seen sea ice formation below the average for that period, with 15 of those below-average years happening between 1996 and 2010.

Senator Harb is the first Canadian parliamentarian in history to introduce a bill to prohibit the commercial seal hunt. He will reintroduce his historic bill later in the day. “A responsible government would not only cancel the 2010 seal slaughter, it would respect the views of the overwhelming majority of Canadians and end the commercial seal hunt for good,” Senator Harb said.

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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 11 million members and constituents globally — On the Web at hsi.org

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