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February 4, 2009

DFO Once Again to Allow Gruesome Grey Seal Massacre on Protected Island

Nova Scotia Prepares to Open Protected Sanctuary to Seal Hunters

Humane Society International

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — The government of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced that once again they will allow fishermen to kill grey seals on Hay Island, part of the protected Scaterie Island Wildlife Area, as early as Wednesday.

Humane Society International/Canada and the Atlantic Canadian Anti-Sealing Coalition observed the Hay Island grey seal slaughter firsthand in 2008. Observers filmed and photographed as sealers herded seals into groups, then clubbed molted pups with wooden bats and cut them open with box cutters just inches away from newborn pups and their mothers. High-resolution photographs and video of the kill can be found here and here. HSI/Canada will be on Hay Island to document the killing again this year.

"Even after 10 years of observing commercial seal hunting in Canada, I was unprepared for the violence I witnessed on Hay Island last year," said Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International/Canada. "With a pending ban on seal product trade in the EU global markets for seal products are closing. It is completely irresponsible and stands in stark contrast to world opinion for the Nova Scotia government to open this provincial sanctuary to another commercial seal kill."

The controversial decision to open Hay Island to seal hunters in 2008 and again this year followed intensive lobbying of the federal and provincial government from the fishing industry, which claims grey seals are inhibiting recovery of some fish stocks.

Under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act, the Nova Scotia Minister of Environment can only allow hunting on Hay Island if it is proven it will aid in the restoration of indigenous biodiversity of the protected area. However, neither the DFO nor the Nova Scotia government have offered any evidence that grey seals negatively impact the ecology of Hay Island.

By 1949, the grey seal population was considered extirpated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as a direct result of commercial hunting. In recent years, the population has slowly begun to recover. While the DFO has attempted to position this slow recovery as an increase in the population, grey seals numbers are still very low.

Broadcast-ready B-roll and still images are available for download here.

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than ten million members and constituents globally — on the web at hsi.org. 

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