The Killing Is escalated!!!
Fisheries minister increases seal hunt quota
Updated Thu. Mar. 16 2006 8:52 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
With this year's annual seal hunt about to get underway off Canada's East Coast, Ottawa has enraged animal rights groups by announcing new higher quotas.
Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn announced Wednesday the catch limit for 2006 has been increased to 325,000, an additional 5,000 from last year.
Hearn said the harp seal population is healthy and thriving and the hunts will go ahead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and on the Front, off the north coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
A date for the Gulf hunt will be set in the next week, while the Front hunt does not typically open before April.
Hearn told Canada AM on Thursday that the Canadian hunt is humane and economically beneficial to Atlantic Canada.
"Nothing is monitored as closely or done as humanely as the present seal hunt," Hearn said.
According to recent figures, the industry is worth up to $20 million annually and employs up to 10,000 people, most of them in Newfoundland.
Hearn said animal rights groups are using 20-year-old images of inhumane seal hunts to sway the opinion of the Canadian public. He said that baby whitecoat pups, shown as victims on activist websites, are not part of the hunt.
"Look at the facts as they exist today and don't deal with the perceptions of yesterday which are still fleshed across the screen day after day to try to ramp up the protest movement."
Canada has not permitted a whitecoat hunt since 1987, but the pups can be killed once they lose their white fur, which can happen as soon as about 12 days after they are born.
"We're not saying whitecoats are hunted," Sheryl Fink, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told Canada AM Thursday.
"The fact is that the seals that are being killed, 98 per cent of them, are between three weeks and three months of age."
She rebuffed governmental reasoning that the seal population was at one of its highest peaks ever.
"Just because harp seals may not be endangered right now, that's no excuse for bad management policies," Fink said.
The hunt has received high-profile criticism in the past, and most recently from former Beatle Paul McCartney, who visited ice floes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence earlier this month.
He and his wife posed for photographers while petting whitecoat pups, which are illegal to target.
McCartney called the hunt "barbaric" and a "stain" on the country, and urged Ottawa to replace it with subsidies for fishermen and an eco-tourism industry.
Last spring marked the final season for a three-year federal plan that allowed sealers to take a total of 975,000 seals -- most of them harp seals between 12 days and three months old.
The Humane Society of the United States, which helped organize McCartney's publicity stunt, sponsored demonstrations Wednesday at Canadian embassies and consulates in Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C.
About 60 activists demonstrated outside the federal fisheries building in Vancouver, according to a website posting by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which labelled Wednesday the international day of protest against the hunt.
Dozens of protesters also held short demonstrations in Detroit, Los Angeles, Denver, Seattle and San Francisco.
The conservation organization said there were small demonstrations in Poland, Belgium, Australia, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Peru, Hungary, Croatia and Austria as well.
"Obviously this is something that divides Canada with the rest of the world and it's just time it ended," one protester said.