Extended Canadian seal hunt kills fewest seals since 1993

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2010:


ST. JOHNS, Newfoundland–Canadian Fisheries Minister Gail
Shea on May 11, 2010 announced that the close of the 2010 Atlantic
Canada seal hunt would be extended to the end of May.
The sealing season was lengthened to give sealers an
“extended period of time to take advantage of potential market
opportunities,” said the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in a
prepared statement. Earlier, Shea increased the sealing quota to
330,000, from 280,000 in 2009, even though the European Union in
July 2009 banned imports of seal products.

The DFO and Newfoundland media disagreed about how many seals
had been killed as of the extension–the DFO said 57,000, while The
Beacon, of Gander, said 48,000, and the Western Star, of Corner
Brook, said 60,000. Any of the figures were the lowest since a
10-year suspension of the offshore phase of the hunt ended in 1994.
“The Minister has unwittingly shortened the seal slaughter by
two weeks. Under the Marine Mammal Regulations the closing date of
the commercial harp seal hunt is, in fact, June 15,” responded
International Fund for Animal Welfare representative Sheryl Fink,
of Guelph, Ontario, in a letter to the National Post. “When the
DFO manages to screw up something as simple as reading their own
legislation,” Fink continued, “one wonders what hope there is for
fish who rely on them for conservation.”
“Most of Canada’s 6,000 sealers stayed home, unable to find
buyers for their catch or stymied by a lack of ice floes for the
first time in 60 years on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, which usually
host hordes of seals birthing pups,” reported Michel Comte of Agence
France-Presse. “Fewer than 50 sealing ships launched from
Newfoundland, down from 500 in past years.” The only ship from the
Magdalen Islands hunting seals in 2010 was the Jean-Mathieu, which
brought back 2,200 seal carcasses from the Labrador Front–half as
many, Compte said, as the crew hoped to kill.
An Ipsos Reid poll of 181 Newfoundland sealers and vessel
owners, commissioned by Humane Society International/Canada, found
recently that 49% believe the market for seal pelts is likely to
continue to decline. Eighty-three percent believe the fishing
industry is also in decline and unlikely to recover. Half of the
sealers said they would favor a governmental buyout which, as
outlined by the pollsters, would “involve fishers and vessel owners
being compensated for their sealing licences, and money being
invested in economic alternatives for affected communities.”

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