Humane Society International/Canada

Humane Society International/Canada

March 22, 2007 12:41 ET

Environmental and Animal Protection Groups Say Stop the Commercial Seal Hunt

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - March 22, 2007) - Canadian environmental and animal protection organizations, along with the Green Party of Canada, today called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to stop the commercial seal hunt immediately. Right now an ecological disaster is unfolding in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of seal pups are dying. Global warming has diminished the ice cover in the northwest Atlantic, and the pups are being forced into the ocean before they are strong enough to swim.

"Continuation of the commercial seal hunt cannot be reconciled with the long-term conservation of the harp seal - an ice-dependent species which is already suffering critical habitat loss due to global warming, a situation which is set to get drastically worse unless Stephen Harper takes meaningful action to curb Canada's greenhouse gas emissions," said Toni Vernelli, Oceans Coordinator for Greenpeace Canada.

A large percentage of the seal pups born in the northwest Atlantic this year are dying as their habitat is destroyed," said Rebecca Aldworth, Director of Canadian Wildlife Issues for the Humane Society International/Canada. "We cannot allow the survivors of this ecological disaster to be slaughtered to produce fashion items."

The 2005/2006 winter was the warmest on record in Canada, with sea ice cover on Canada's east coast falling to the lowest levels observed since records began to be kept in 1969. In 2002, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans estimated that 75 percent of seal pups born in the Gulf of St. Lawrence perished when the sea ice melted before they were old enough to survive in the water.

"This year, the ice cover has been reduced to an even greater extent than in 2002," said Melissa Tkachyk of the World Society for the Protection of Animals. "The combined impact of global warming and an industrial-scale slaughter could be devastating to the seals."

"With more than one million seals slaughtered in the past three years alone, Canada's commercial hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on earth. Now, the seals are facing the added threat of global warming," said Sharon Labchuk of the Green Party of Canada. "It is time the Canadian government took steps to protect the seals and put a final end to the commercial seal hunt."

Editor's Note: For video, please contact Belinda Mager,, 646-469-4987

Greenpeace Canada, the Green Party of Canada, Humane Society International/Canada, the World Society for the Protection of Animals

Contact Information

  • Greenpeace
    Toni Vernelli
    Oceans Coordinator
    778-317-2091 (cell)
    Humane Society International - Canada
    Rebecca Aldworth
    Director, Wildlife Issues
    902-892-0994 (office)
    514-262-1832 (cell)