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March 27, 2014

Massive 2014 Seal Hunt Quota Confirms Importance of Seal Product Trade Bans

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Humane Society International

Humane Society International/Canada condemned the irresponsible 2014 seal hunt quota set by Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, which allows for the slaughter of 400,000 harp seals. Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of HSI Canada, released the following statement in response:

“In setting this reckless quota, the Fisheries Minister has yet again ignored sound science in favour of political agendas. Given the devastating impacts of climate change on the ice dependent harp seals, the Canadian government should be ending commercial sealing, not setting historic high slaughter quotas.

“Luckily for the seals, more than 30 responsible nations have chosen to end their trade in products of commercial seal slaughters. As a result, demand for seal fur this year is low and it is unlikely sealers will reach the quota. It is shameful that the protection of harp seals has fallen to foreign nations because of our government’s refusal to take action.

 “Instead of setting irresponsible quotas, the Canadian government should support a federal buyout of the commercial sealing industry. This plan, which has broad support within the sealing industry itself, would see the end of commercial sealing, compensation for sealers and investment in economic alternatives.”

Facts:

  • Harp seals rely on sea ice to give birth to and nurse their pups and climate change is causing their ice habitat to deteriorate at an alarming rate. In recent years, the Canadian government has estimated up to 100 percent mortality for pups born in key whelping areas when the sea ice melted too soon in the season.
  • Independent scientists warn that reckless kill levels authorized by the Canadian government, paired with the impacts of climate change on the ice dependent harp seals, could pose a threat to the survival of harp seal populations.
  • Global markets for seal products are closing fast. In 2013, Taiwan prohibited trade in marine mammal products (including seal products), joining the 28-nation European Union, the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan; and the United States, which also prohibits seal product trade.
  • Government landing reports confirm that more than 98 percent of seals killed in Canada’s annual slaughter are less than three months of age.
  • Veterinary reports consistently reveal high levels of animal suffering in commercial sealing, and leading veterinary experts now state that Canada’s commercial slaughter is inherently inhumane.
  • National polling consistently shows most Canadians want the commercial seal slaughter to end, and oppose the Canadian government using tax dollars to promote the sealing industry.
  • Polling shows half of Newfoundland sealers and the majority of Newfoundlanders, holding an opinion, support a federal sealing industry buyout (Ipsos Reid 2010).


Media Contact:
Raúl Arce-Contreras: 301-721-6440; rcontreras@humanesociety.org

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