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Canada stirs controversy with seal hunt

Feb 27, 2006


2006 marks the third year that Canada is allowing an increased quota on the number of harp seals that can be legally killed during this year's hunt. 350,000 baby seals will be killed during this year's hunt, as a result of a three-year Seal Hunt Plan developed by the Canadian government. Beginning in 2003, the plan allows a total kill of 975,000, an increase of 75,000 seals per year above the quotas of the five prior years.

Why protest the hunt?

The strongest argument for ending the hunt lies in the fact that  the methods used for hunting baby seals are particularly inhumane. It's legal to kill seals as young as 12 days old. The hunters use several methods to kill the seals, including clubbing, shooting and stabbing them with a hakapik, a large ice-pick. Anyone with a commercial sealing license or Provincial hunting license can kill seals, no experience or training required. An alarming number of seals are skinned while still alive and conscious.

Protect Seals campaign

WSPA participates in Protect Seals (www.protectseals.org),  a global campaign to end the hunt.. Protect Seals is a coalition of animal welfare organizations that represents tens of millions of individuals worldwide. In support of this campaign, WSPA's US office will participate in a day of protest on March 15th, focusing our efforts in a demonstration in Copley Square in Boston.

Hunts considered unsustainable

Canada's fishing industry claims that the seals are overpopulated and need to be killed in order to protect their fish stocks, but they lack solid scientific research to back them up. Making matters worse, the Canadian government has failed to enforce quota limits in past hunts and has been known to turn a blind eye when sealers have exceeded their allowed take.

Government subsidies needed for hunt

The Canadian government has to subsidize the sealing industry, and actually gave $20 million to help support the killings between 1995 and 2001. This money was used to fund the salaries for seal processing plant workers, market research and development trips in addition to capital acquisition of processing plants.  Without the government's support, Canada's seal hunt would likely have ended years ago.  Reports indicate that the primary beneficiaries of the hunt are actually the large fisheries conglomerates and the hunts provide only a very small percentage of the local fishermen's annual incomes.      

Take Action

Help the coalition to protect seals by sending a polite letter to Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and the Canadian Tourism Commission. Let them know that you will not be visiting Canada until the cruel and unsustainable seal hunts are ended once and for all.

Office of the Prime Minister
Right Hon. Stephen Harper
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa
K1A 0A2
pm@pm.gc.ca
Fax: 613-941-6900

Canadian Tourism Commission
55 Metcalfe Street
Suite 600
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1P 6L5
Fax: 613-954-3945
Email: www.canadatourism.com/en/ctc/aboutctc/CTX_Contact US.cfm

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