Canada seal hunters say harvest up

AFP-JIJI

Canadian seal hunters, reeling from foreign bans that decimated their industry, said Thursday they are on target to increase this year’s harvest by more than 40 percent.

However, the final figure is predicted to come in far short of the government-set allowable catch of about 400,000 for the season.

Nine days into the hunt, sealers estimate their cull in the North Atlantic stands at almost 60,000 seals, compared to 69,000 for all of last year. Overall, they are aiming for a harvest of 100,000.

Ottawa maintains that the 350-year-old commercial seal hunt is humane and crucial for around 6,000 North Atlantic fishermen who rely on it for up to 35 percent of their total annual income.

  • Bridget Curran

    “Harvests” are up solely because for the second year in a row, the Newfoundland government offered a $3.6M “loan” to a seal processor to buy the pelts and stockpile them in case markets crop up in the future. Although the “harvest” numbers are up, the markets down (read: non-existent) and the government had to pay someone to buy and stockpile the seal products. A Canadian seal processor admitted to media last year that hundreds of thousands of seal skins are already stockpiled in storage because there are no markets.
    The Canadian government claims seal management is science-based with a precautionary approach, yet it opened this year’s seal hunt with no Total Allowable Catch. The seal hunt had been ongoing for a week and the government had still set no kill limits. Last year the Canadian government ignored the advice of its own scientists and set a Total Allowable Catch of 400,000 – 100,000 OVER what its own scientists had advised, stating it set the quota higher at the request of sealing industry representatives. I see again a quota of 400,000 has reportedly been set again. This is hardly “science-based” with a “precautionary approach”.
    Humane Society International representatives are documenting this year’s seal hunt and reported on the first day there was absolutely no monitoring by DFO of the killing. Additionally, they have been reporting extreme animal cruelty and numerous violations by sealers resulting in serious animal welfare concerns. Again, government’s claims of a “human”, “monitored” and “regulated” seal hunt are easily shown to be bogus.
    Ottawa’s claims that fishermen rely on the seal hunt for their income are false. Sealing is an off-season activity for these fishermen who make the bulk of their earnings fishing for other species at other times of the year. They make very little money from killing seals. In past years, the sealing industry has seen a drop in profits by 90%. A sealing licence buyout would generate more income for sealers than participating in the commercial seal hunt. Canadians do not want their tax dollars wasted on this cruel and wasteful industry and would rather see their taxes used in a buyout which would include the abolition of the commercial seal hunt and monetary compensation to assist sealers in transitioning out of it.