30 March 2010

One shipping vessel shows up for Canadian seal hunt

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) confirmed with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that only one single sealing vessel came out on the opening day of the commercial harp seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada.

The vessel is seemingly heading to the Northern Gulf to kill the few seals that have been able to survive what has been a very difficult year for harp seal pups due to the lack of ice.

"After spending the past week watching the few tenacious seal pup survivors clinging to life, it is heartbreaking to realize that they may now be killed," said Sheryl Fink, a senior researcher with IFAW. "On the other hand, I am encouraged that only one boat has decided to go seal killing so far this year."

The poor ice conditions will result in a high mortality rate for harp seals even before the seal slaughter begins.

“Under a precautionary approach, these seal pups should be protected from commercial hunting and given the chance to survive. Instead, Canada is proceeding to kill off any animals that might actually exhibit traits that would allow the species to better contend with climate change,” said Fink.

Besides the small amount of seals available to hunters, the absence of many vessels is also because of the decreased demand for seal products due to market saturation. The current price for seal is $15 per skin. In 2006, the same skin fetched $104.

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Photo Credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/yeimaya