March 21, 2009
Humane Society International Condemns Reckless Seal Quota
MONTREAL — Humane Society International condemns the irresponsible harp seal quota set by the Canadian government for 2009. Canada will allow seal hunters to slaughter 280,000 seals this year, an increase of 5,000 from 2008.
"This quota flies in the face of the best available science and common sense," said Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International/Canada. "The last time Canada allowed this many seals to be killed, the harp seal population was reduced by as much as two thirds within a decade. At a time when the Canadian government should be taking action to preserve harp seals, it instead seems determined to wipe them out."
Independent scientists warn that reckless kill levels authorized by the Canadian government, paired with the impacts of climate change on the ice dependent harp seals, poses a serious threat to the survival of harp seal populations.
In recent years, global warming has caused the sea ice in the northwest Atlantic to diminish dramatically. In some key whelping areas, up to 100 percent mortality has been estimated for seal pups as the sea ice melted before they were old enough to survive in open water. As this has occurred, the Canadian government has authorized historic high quotas for harp seals, with more than one million seals killed in the past four years alone. The impacts of global warming cannot be stopped in the immediate future, so we must stop the commercial seal hunt.
Within weeks, the European Union will vote on a proposal to prohibit trade in seal products - a move many believe could spell the end of Canada's commercial seal slaughter. This week, Russia announced a complete ban on the slaughter of seals younger than 1 year old. In the United States, a boycott of Canadian seafood products that will continue until the seal hunt is ended has gained the support of more than 5,000 establishments and 600,000 individuals, costing the Canadian economy many times the value of the commercial seal hunt.
In setting this absurdly high quota, the Canadian government has shown a profound lack of judgment, and the sealing industry will pay the price.
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 hsicanada.ca.