International Fund for Animal Welfare

International Fund for Animal Welfare

June 19, 2009 10:15 ET

IFAW Criticizes DFO Announcement of Grey Seal Cull as Pre-Election Ploy

GUELPH, ONTARIO, CANADA--(Marketwire - June 19, 2009) - The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is condemning the announcement by Fisheries Minister Gail Shea that she will pursue a cull of grey seals, saying that such a cull is a blatant political move and not supported by any science.

In conjunction with the closing of the Southern Gulf cod fishery earlier this week, Shea stated she had directed her department to undertake a "targeted removal of grey seals."

"My head is spinning with deja vu" said Sheryl Fink, Senior Researcher with IFAW. "For years now, the DFO has allowed a commercial fishery of the Southern Gulf cod stock, despite clear and repeated warnings from their own scientists that such exploitation was not sustainable. The decision to close this fishery is long overdue. In fact, it seems it never should have been re-opened in the first place."

The Minister's decision to cull seals, on the other hand, is not supported by any available science. Culling of marine mammals has never been shown to benefit any commercial fish stock, and the report of the recent DFO National Workshop on the Impacts of Seals on Fish Populations in Eastern Canada notes that there is no analysis to suggest that fewer grey seals would have a positive effect on fish stock recovery.

"This is outrageous and irresponsible," continued Fink. "Once again, politics are being given precedence over science, and once again seals are being used as scapegoats for the DFO's disastrous failure to manage a fishery."

"Smells like election time," sniffed Fink. "There is absolutely no science to support this decision. Culling seals is not going to help cod stocks recover. This is nothing more than a pre-election ploy to win votes from fishing interests".

Although it is unclear how, where or when the DFO intends to undertake the cull, or what benefits they expect to achieve, there is unlikely to be any commercial market for the dead seals. Earlier this year, Minister Shea increased the Allowable Catch for grey seals to 50,000, but fewer than 300 have been reported killed.

Contact Information

  • IFAW
    Sheryl Fink
    Senior Researcher
    Office: 519-767-1948 ext. 22
    Mobile: 519-830-0046
    sfink@ifaw.org