|STOP THE SLAUGHTER OF BABY SEALS|
Friday, March 24, 2006
Canada's seal hunt to begin Saturday
Much-criticized practice means millions for fishermen
TORONTO, Ontario (AP) -- The spring leg of Canada's seal hunt is set to begin at dawn Saturday by isolated Atlantic fishermen determined to maintain their way of life, as the government largely ignores pleas from protesters opposed to the slaughter.
Paul McCartney and his wife, Heather, said in a video message from London, England, on Friday that they were stunned that the Canadian government has turned a blind eye to all the protests, boycotts and appeals to end the spring leg of the hunt in Quebec and Newfoundland.
"We actually pleaded to the Canadian government to stop the seal hunt, but they have refused," Heather McCartney said. "We're devastated to learn that 325,000 of these harp seals, almost all of them defenseless babies, will be clubbed and shot to death."
The former Beatle and his wife took to the ice floes off the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month to frolic with seal pups and highlight the work of anti-seal hunt efforts by the Humane Society and other animal protection groups.
The government insists the country's seal population is thriving, at nearly 6 million, and the annual hunt supplements the incomes of the isolated fishing communities in Quebec and Newfoundland.
But animal-rights activists and celebrities, including Brigitte Bardot, have placed Canada under an unpopular global spotlight, calling the world's largest seal hunt barbaric and unnecessary in a developed nation.
Registered hunters are not allowed to kill the pups before they molt their downy white fur, typically when they're 10 days to three weeks old.
The McCartneys said Canada should consider a license buyback program to compensate sealers while ending a hunt that is facing mounting international condemnation.
"This is a win-win solution," Paul McCartney said. "Fishermen would be compensated for any lost revenue when the hunt is closed and Canada would have a graceful way to put an end to a cruel and needless practice."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed the suggestion.
"Unfortunately, we're to some degree the victim of a bit of an international propaganda campaign," Harper said.
"We believe the country is acting responsibly, and we'll make sure all rules are enforced."
The United States banned Canadian seals products in 1972, and a ban on importing the white pelts of seal pups was implemented by the European Community in 1983.
The quota for the hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is 91,000 harp seals. When the hunt moves to Newfoundland in April, up to 325,000 seals could be killed this year.
About 320,000 seals pups were killed last year, bringing the local fishermen $14.5 million (12.1 million euros).
|Paul McCartney and his wife frolicing with a baby seal on the ice flows|
|Canada's Seal Hunt: "Unacceptably Inhumane"
"The Canadian government insists that the seal hunt is an animal production industry like any other. They say that it might not be pretty, but basically it is just like any abattoir except on the ice. But we found obvious levels of suffering which would not be tolerated in any other animal industry in the world." Ian Robinson, British Veterinarian
Two separate veterinary reports that studied the 2001 seal hunt, one commissioned by the Canadian government, show numerous instances where animals were clubbed or shot and not rendered immediately unconscious.
Together, the two reports also document that a number of animals each year are hooked and dragged across the ice while still conscious and some of these are still alive by the time they reach the decks of sealing vessels.
Here’s what one such international team of five independent veterinarians found:
79% of the sealers did not check to see if an animal was dead before skinning it.
In 40% of the kills a sealer had to strike the seal a second time, presumably because it was still conscious after the first blow or shot.
42% of killed seals examined were found to have minimal or no fractures, suggesting a high probability that these seals were conscious when skinned.
The veterinarian team concluded that the existing regulations were neither being respected nor enforced, and that the seal hunt is resulting in considerable and unacceptable suffering.
|Clubbing the seal.|
|More Than 660 Probable Seal Abuses Caught on Tape
IFAW has submitted video evidence of more than 660 probable violations of Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. These abuses include skinning or bleeding live seals, stockpiling dead and dying animals, dragging live seals across the ice with sharpened steel hooks and shooting seals and leaving them to suffer. To date, not a single charge has been laid in response.
|Watch and Listen: Seal Hunt Videos and Podcasts|
|Warning: contains graphic scenes of cruelty to animals.
Viewer discretion is strongly advised.
|Click Onto Link Below|