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March 25, 2011

HSI Canada Condemns Harper Government’s Reckless 2011 Seal Hunt Quota

Humane Society International/Canada

  • At risk from climate change and sealers. Katie Carrus/The HSUS

MONTREAL—Humane Society International/Canada condemns the Harper government's irresponsible seal hunt quota for 2011. The Canadian government will allow the slaughter of 468,200 of harp, grey and hooded seals this year, an increase of 80,000 from 2010.

“The Harper government has declared war on Canada’s seals,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “Stephen Harper is playing regional politics in the lead-up to a federal election at the expense of hundreds of thousands of defenseless baby seals. Harp seals are ice dependent animals and they are facing the devastating loss of their ice habitat because of climate change. A responsible government would take immediate action to protect this population rather than recklessly encouraging a commercial slaughter.”

The 2011 harp seal quota is the highest set since the Canadian government introduced quota management in 1971. Today’s kill levels meet and exceed those of the 1950s and 1960s, when overhunting reduced the harp seal population by as much as two-thirds.

As ice-dependent animals, harp seals need sea ice to give birth to their pups and they need the ice to remain intact until the pups are strong enough to survive in open water. Climate change has caused reduction in sea ice off Canada’s east coast to an alarming extent, with sea ice formation well below average for each of the past 16 years. In some key whelping areas, the Canadian government has estimated up to 100 percent mortality for seal pups when the sea ice melted before they were old enough to survive in open water. Independent scientists warn that reckless kill levels combined with the impacts of climate change pose a serious ecological threat to the survival of harp seal populations.

National polling consistently shows the overwhelming majority of Canadians want the commercial seal hunt to end, and oppose the Canadian government using tax dollars to promote the sealing industry.

In March 2011, the National People’s Congress of China accepted two legislative proposals to ban seal product trade. The United States, Canada’s largest trading partner, has prohibited trade in seal products since 1972, and the European Union, Mexico and Croatia have also recently followed suit. A global boycott of Canadian seafood products, that will continue until the seal slaughter is ended, already has the support of thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of people. With global markets for seal products closing fast, Humane Society International/Canada is calling upon the Canadian government to implement a one-time buyout of the commercial sealing industry.

2010 Ipsos Reid polling shows that 50 percent of Newfoundland sealers holding an opinion support a federal sealing industry buyout—a plan in which sealers would be compensated for their licenses, and funds invested in economic alternatives in the communities involved.

Click here to view the Canadian commercial seal hunt 

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 hsicanada.ca.

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