International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

March 15, 2010 15:09 ET

IFAW/"Let Them Eat Seal": Undeterred by Absence of Seals, DFO Announces Increase in Allowable Catch

GUELPH, CANADA--(Marketwire - March 15, 2010) - Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has increased the total allowable catch (TAC) for harp seals to 330,000 in a year when the population is already facing a lethal habitat shortage. IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) says the increase is ridiculous and nonsensical, and notes that such a high TAC is irrelevant given that few seal pups are expected to survive this year's disastrous ice conditions.

"The Canadian government looks absurd calling for 330,000 seals to be slaughtered when there likely won't be that many pups left alive to hunt" said Sheryl Fink, a senior researcher with IFAW.

The market outlook for seal products also remains poor. The commercial hunt for grey seals last month failed to occur, reportedly due to an inability to locate a buyer for pelts. The 2009 harp seal hunt had a landed value of just over $1 million CDN, with sealers earning a mere $15 per skin. As a result, only about 72,000 harp seals were killed out of last year's allowable catch of 280,000 animals.

"This is yet another politically-motivated decision that has no bearing in reality" said Fink. "There is no rational basis for increasing the allowable catch at this time, and given the scarcity of seal pups and lack of demand for seal products, it is almost certainly impossible to achieve. Attempting to reach such a TAC will undoubtedly be dangerous, expensive, and present increased animal welfare concerns. Today's announcement demonstrates just how out of touch with reality our seal meat canapé-nibbling politicians truly are" concluded Fink.

This year's commercial seal hunt will be the first hunt to take place after the European Union voted to ban the trade in seal products throughout its member states last summer. The EU ban will officially become law later this year.

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