International Fund for Animal Welfare

International Fund for Animal Welfare

March 14, 2007 10:01 ET

IFAW urges Prime Minister Harper to call off seal hunt

Harp seals at risk from global warming

Attention: Assignment Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Science Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - March 14, 2007) - IFAW is calling on the Canadian government to call off Canada's commercial seal hunt due to a disturbing lack of seals-and ice-in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

Ice conditions on Canada's east coast are shaping up to be among the worst on record, according to the latest information from Environment Canada.

Normally, harp seals give birth and nurse their pups on pack ice in the Gulf of St Lawrence but the lack of any solid ice means very few harp and hooded seals have been seen.

"It's absolutely unbelievable," said Sheryl Fink, IFAW Senior Researcher. "Surveillance flights are reporting that there is not a single harp seal to be found in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence."

Ice conditions in the Gulf this year, so far, appear to be worse than in 2002, when Canadian government scientists estimated that 75 percent of the newborn seal pups died as a consequence of bad ice conditions.

Last month IFAW released a scientific report revealing that in nine of the past 11 years, average ice coverage has been well below the average ice cover seen over the last 37 years.

While this critical habitat has been decreasing, the government has authorized increasing numbers of harp seals to be killed.

With the announcement of the 2007 seal hunt TAC expected any day, the Harper government has one last chance to show they are prepared to give Canada's wildlife a fighting chance in the face of global warming.

"Canada can take immediate and positive action to combat the effects of global warming on these species. In light of these dire ice conditions, the sensible thing to do is to call off this year's seal hunt," said Ms Fink.

To highlight the plight of ice-breeding seals in the face of global warming IFAW has released a new Public Service Announcement this week screening nationally and available at

Contact Information

  • Erica Martin, Communications Manager
    Primary Phone: 613-241-3982 ext. 221
    Secondary Phone: 613-852-0589
    Toll-Free: 888-500-4329