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Protests Against the Seal Hunt


Bi-Partisan Bill Urges Canada to End the Commercial Seal Hunt

May 22, 2007

Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today introduced bipartisan legislation calling on the Canadian government to stop the commercial hunting of seals.

“This deeply inhumane practice is far beneath the dignity of the people of Canada,” Lantos said. “There is no real good reason to let this needless slaughter continue, and every reason to put it to a stop. We call on the Canadian government to suspend the hunt in the waters off the east coast of Canada now and forever.”

Lantos introduced the resolution, H. Res. 427, with Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT), with whom he co-chairs the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus.

“I am committed to animal welfare because I believe humankind has an obligation to all animals,” Shays said. “I oppose the cruel practice of killing thousands of young seals, as well as the environmental impact of this practice. Some species have become our companions and some play important roles in sensitive ecosystems. It is our duty to protect and care for all of these animals.”

Fishing and sealing industries in Canada continue to justify the hunt on the grounds that the seals in the Northwest Atlantic are preventing the recovery of cod stocks; this contradicts the consensus of the international scientific community that the true cause of cod depletion is actually over-fishing.

Since February 2003, the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans in Canada has allowed the hunting of seal pups as soon as they have begun to molt their white coats at approximately 12 days of age, resulting in the death of nearly one million seals between 2003 and 2006. The killing is mostly conducted by clubbing or by shooting, but veterinary reports conclude that as many as 42 percent of the seals studied were likely skinned while alive, some while conscious.

Note: On July 3O, 2007, this resolution passed in the House, which is the end of the legislative process for simple resolutions. The resolution now takes effect. However, it does not require any actions by any individuals or governments.



Miami Joins Protest Of Harp Seal Hunt In Canada
Beach Restaurant Bans Canadian Fish

Mar 17, 2007 9:37 am US/Eastern

Jennifer Santiago

(CBS4) MIAMI Each year, the Canadian government approves the allowable catch for harp seals in its northern provinces. In 2004, a maximum of 350,000 animals were allowed to be killed. In 2006, it was an almost similar number.

Organizations against the seal’s killing call for a day in March to mark the International Day of Action To End the Seal Hunt; one such non-profit organization with a chapter in Miami is called Harpseals.org.

But there's another movement afoot: restaurants banning fish from Canada. O Asian Grill on South Beach has announced its decision to join the ranks of about a dozen restaurants in South Florida banning such imports.

The collapse of fisheries around Newfoundland led to the economic incentive to hunt for seals – for their white fur. When the world began to see film of fishermen clubbing seals, when they were most vulnerable on land, and their white fur covered with blood, outrage led to demonstrations.

While the "whitecoat" harp seals (under 2 weeks old) are still protected as a result of actions by Greenpeace and other organisations in the 70s and 80s, and some of the more extreme animal rights abuses have been outlawed, older seals can still be legally hunted under Canadian law.

The season for the commercial hunt of harp seal is from November 15 to May 15. The majority of sealing, however, occurs in late March in The Gulf of St. Lawrence, and during the first or second week of April off Newfoundland, in an area known as "The Front".

Canada's cod fishery collapsed in the early 90s, and some in Canada blamed the seals, despite international organizations claiming it was decades of human overfishing.

(© MMVII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)



Furor comes before the seal hunt
Bans in Europe. Canadian message brought to the Hague


Friday, March 16, 2007

Peta Seal Hunt Protest
As members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protested against seal hunting in front of the Canada embassy in Washington yesterday, a group of Inuit students modelled sealskin clothing on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to support sustainable seal harvesting.

Not one harp seal has been slaughtered on the ice floes off Canada's east coast, but the transatlantic public relations slugfest over the annual hunt has already reached fever pitch.

In Strasbourg, France, the European Commission restated its opposition to an immediate ban on the import of Canadian seal products yesterday, but said it would proceed with a study to determine whether the centuries-old hunt is carried out in a humane manner.

The decision came as both opponents and supporters of the hunt, which is expected to start within days, pressed ahead with competing campaigns that saw rallies in cities around the world and a Canadian delegation bringing a pro-sealing message to the Hague.

Aaju Peter, an Inuk from Nunavut, travelled to the Netherlands with her son to counter "misinformation" she says has clouded people's judgment about a hunt that has attracted increasing scorn across Europe.

"People have been informed by the animal rights movement and they haven't had a chance to hear the Inuit side," Peter said in an interview from the Hague, following a news conference.

Inuit Woman in Seal Skin
As members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protested against seal hunting in front of the Canada embassy in Washington yesterday, a group of Inuit students modelled sealskin clothing on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to support sustainable seal harvesting (above).

"I'm worried about the effect a ban would have ... and I think it is based on misinformation."

Peter said she met with a handful of anti-sealing protesters outside government buildings.

The Inuit woman said she tried to persuade them that the hunt, valued at $30 million last year by the federal Fisheries Department, supports hundreds of people in eastern and northern Canada who have limited ways to make a living.

"We were telling them we hunt it and we eat it because we cannot grow potatoes, we cannot grow vegetation," she said.

"I think we may have begun to shift some people, but it's going to be a lot work because there are a lot of misconceptions."

Peter and some Newfoundland sealers travelled to the Netherlands with the help of Canadian governments to press the point further restrictions on the import of seal products could hurt many coastal communities and aboriginal groups.

Canada is also concerned a ban would block imports at European ports, preventing them from getting to market.
Germany has said it will move ahead with a ban, while the Netherlands has confirmed it is also proceeding with legislation to enact a ban.

Belgium was the first member of the European Union to ban the import of seal products. Italy and Luxembourg have introduced temporary bans.

British Conservative John Bowis, a member of the European Parliament, said the Canadian hunt was "not worthy of a civilized country."

In Canada, Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn shrugged off fears a ban would jeopardize the industry, saying other non-EU countries, such as Russia and Norway, buy the bulk of Canada's seal exports.

Still, his department has stepped up efforts to counter activists who every year stage high-profile protests showing sealers using barbed clubs to kill the young animals.

"Countries are starting to say it's time to push back and let people know what's really going on here, namely that the hunt is sustainable and is carried out humanely," Hearn said from St. John's, N.L.

Hearn said he will welcome inspectors from the European Commission, who are expected to investigate practices at this year's hunt, due to begin at the end of this month in the Gulf of St. Lawrence before expanding to the north coast of Newfoundland.

The first phase of the hunt, which usually takes place in the Gulf near the iles de la Madeleine, could be delayed or even cancelled if the wind continues to push the ice and seals into the open ocean.

Meanwhile, opponents of the hunt staged modest protests in Ottawa and other Canadian cities yesterday, claiming the hunt is a cruel slaughter that serves no economic purpose.

About 70 per cent of the seal pelts landed are taken from the ice floes off Newfoundland.

Most of the rest come from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where many of the sealers are from Quebec, Newfoundland and elsewhere.

The population of harp seals in Canada's Arctic and Atlantic regions has grown from just less than 2 million to 5.8 million harp seals in the last couple of decades, federal officials say.

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2007


Pro, anti-seal campaigns step up across Canada

Updated Thu. Mar. 15 2007 11:11 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Madrid Seal Hunt Protest
Animal rights demonstrators smeared with fake blood, protest against Canada's annual seal hunt in front of a Canadian flag in Madrid on Thursday on International Day of Action Against Seal Hunting. (AP / Paul White)

Demonstrations for and against the annual seal hunt were held in cities across Canada Thursday, the same day the European Parliament called for an EU-wide ban on the import of seal products.

Under pressure from the European Parliament, the European Union (EU) has ordered a study to assess the welfare of seals and will be sending an inspection mission to a seal hunt in Canada.

Many EU legislators have blasted what they see as inhumane hunting tactics used to kill seal pups for their skins.

However, the European Commission said Thursday "there is no scientific evidence'' of serious damage as a result of seal hunting.

"There must be a proper impact study before any action can be taken,'' EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told the European Parliament.

Paris Seal Hunt Protest
Demonstrators from the Fourrure Torture animal liberation group, or Fur Torture group, protest against seal hunting in Canada on Thursday near the Canadian embassy in Paris. Protestors denounced 'cruel and inhumane' hunting tactics used to kill seal pups for their skins, even though it is prohibited in Canada to hunt seal pups. (AP / Michel Euler)

"If it is established seals are hunted in an inhuman way, a ban on export and the marketing of seal products will be considered.''

The EU head office has said a 1983 EU law that outlines limited bans on the import of fur taken from seal pups "provides adequate response'' to the concerns of the European Parliament.

EU rules ban seal products from harp seals less than 12 days old and on hooded seals less than one year old.

The Commission said the population of seals in Canada's Arctic and Atlantic regions "has grown significantly'' in the last three decades -- from just under two million to 5.8 million harp seals alone.

The Commission also said that the seals were not listed as endangered species and that their population is not under threat.

But legislators have said the EU's inaction was hypocritical as it seeks a separate ban on all imports of dog and cat fur into the 27-member bloc.

Reaction in Canada

Meanwhile, dozens of protesters in support of and against the annual seal harvest marched Thursday in front of the steps on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

"I watched as conscious baby seals were hooked with metal spikes and dragged across the ice floes, struggling," said Rebecca Alworth, an anti-sealing protester from Newfoundland, through a megaphone -- as others carrying signs with slogans reading "Shame on the baby killers" looked on.

Calgary Seal Hunt Protest
Karen Orr, of the Sea Shepherd Group of Calgary holds a sign for passing motorist during a rally to draw attention to the annual seal hunt, March 15, 2007, in front of federal government offices in Calgary. (CP / Jeff McIntosh)

Hunt supporters, meanwhile, including those from Canada's Inuit communities, said anti-sealers are misinforming the public about a vital industry.

"What bothers me the most is that somebody who perhaps doesn't understand the full picture ... would interfere with a way of life that is very respectful and is very true to who we are," a hunt supporter from Cornerbrook, N.L. told CTV.

"We usually don't kill the babies, we usually kill the adult harp seals," said Kerrie Tatturinee as she held a sign reading "Stop cultural prejudice."

Meanwhile, federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn, a Newfoundlander and a defender of the seal hunt, has decided to launch his own series of pro-hunt protests.

Hearn said the six millions harp seals on the Newfoundland coast could have a dramatic effect on the world's food chain if the herd's numbers were not controlled by the hunt.

"Just during the week, calculations done on the amount of fish eaten by the seal heard harp seal heard alone ... would fill 175,000 tractor trailers, which on the highway would extend from New York to Los Angeles and back to Texas," Hearn told CTV.

"Now if you can picture that, that's the amount of fish eaten each year by the seals off our coast."

Newfoundland valued the seal hunt at $55 million to the province's economy last year, and Hearn said it's vital for families in remote communities where the seal hunt can make up one third of their annual income.

With a report from NTV News





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