Humane Society of the United States

Humane Society of the United States

April 06, 2007 19:23 ET

Seal Hunt Enforcement Officers Turn a Blind Eye to Sealers Violating Regulations, Attempt to Stop HSUS' Documentation

ST. JOHN, NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR--(CCNMatthews - April 6, 2007) - While observing the Canadian seal hunt in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence yesterday, The Humane Society of the United States filmed and observed numerous apparent violations of theMarine Mammal Regulations that govern the commercial hunt. These violations include sealers failing to ensure the seals were dead prior to hooking and dragging them, and sealers clubbing seals on the face, jaw and neck instead of the skull.

"Each year that we observe the seal hunt, we witness horrible cruelty that clearly violates Canadian law," stated Rebecca Aldworth, director of Canadian wildlife issues for The Humane Society of the United States. "We film the seal hunt in a legal and peaceful manner that complies with all regulations surrounding observation of the seal hunt."

In the past few years, animal protection groups have documented and submitted video evidence of more than 700 apparent violations of the Marine Mammal Regulations that govern the seal hunt to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. However, not a single charge has been filed in response.

While DFO enforcement officers were stationed on a nearby Canadian Coast Guard vessel during the seal hunt yesterday, HSUS observers maintain they did not appear to be actively monitoring the killing. Instead, Fisheries officials stopped an HSUS helicopter and instructed the pilot to remain farther away from seal vessels. Though the helicopter had been well outside the distance from sealing required under the observation permits (500 feet), the pilot complied and moved even farther away for the remainder of the afternoon. However, today, DFO officials say they will not issue an observation permit to the pilot involved while they "investigate" the matter.

"Instead of monitoring sealers' behaviour and enforcing the Marine Mammal Regulations, fisheries enforcement officers chose to harass HSUS observers," continued Aldworth. "This is a clear strategy by DFO to disrupt observation of the commercial seal hunt - the Department is trying to block our legal observation of this slaughter."

Earlier this month, the Canadian government denied observer permits to The HSUS and news media to witness the killing of seals in the southern Gulf.

For HSUS video of apparent sealer violations, contact Belinda Mager,
bmager@hsus.org, 646-469-4987.

For more information on the Canadian seal hunt, visit www.protectseals.org.

HSUS footage of the commercial seal hunt may be viewed at www.animalchannel.org.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization - backed by 10 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty - On the web at www.humanesociety.org.

Contact Information

  • Humane Society of the United States
    Belinda Mager,
    646-469-4987
    bmager@hsus.org