Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wildlife Conservation: Canada approves slaughter of 280,000 Harp Seal pups

SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare
Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has released this year's total allowable catch (TAC) for harp seals despite a lack of demand worldwide for seal fur. Experts with IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - are appalled that the Canadian government is persisting with the commercial seal hunt in spite of dwindling international markets.

"This quota is outrageous," said Sheryl Fink, a senior researcher with IFAW. "With the current state of fur markets, there's no place for pelts to go, even at reduced prices, yet the Canadian government has no problem allowing 280,000 seals to die even if it means the pelts will likely sit in a warehouse for the foreseeable future."

Recent economic evaluations have indicated that the market for seal fur is saturated, causing prices to drop by almost half. Processors report that sales of seal pelts all but stopped at the end of 2007, and in early 2009, still do not appear to have recovered.

Conservation concerns also surround this year's TAC announcement. The Canadian government scientists have publicly said that a quota of this size will deplete the harp seal population by more than 30%. IFAW maintains that the government's unwillingness to seriously reduce the TAC is not only irresponsible, but downright reckless given that it is intended to cause the population to decline.

The 2009 Canadian commercial seal hunt will be under intense scrutiny around the world as the European Union considers banning the trade in seal products throughout its member states. Currently, Belgium, Croatia and the Netherlands have national trade bans on seal products. Hungary, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Italy have also taken steps towards bans designed to close down markets for seal pelts.

"How ironic that in the same week Russia has announced it will end its commercial harp seal hunt, Canada has condemned one-third of the pups born this year to a cruel and unnecessary death" said Fink. "The Canadian government seems insistent on staying stuck in the dark ages," she added.

Canada's commercial seal hunt continues to be the world's largest hunt for marine mammals today. Last year over 217,000 seals were killed, 99.8% of which were pups under three months old.

To learn more about IFAW's efforts to end the Canadian commercial seal hunt, visit today.
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
Putting principles before profits