Climate Change is Killing Seals– and Canada’s Barbaric Sealing Industry
Less ice on Canada’s eastern seaboard means fewer harp seals. Fewer harp seals means less business for the barbaric sealing industry. Still, despite the writing on the wall, the Canadian government continues to bring great shame on the nation by supporting the wholesale slaughter of defenseless seals.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) reports that there’s been no sealing activity since the opening of this year’s commercial seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. IFAW found almost no ice in the Gulf, and as a result, very few seals. IFAW and Environment Canada report below-normal ice coverage for the past 17 years, with the last two years being among the worst ever recorded. You won’t find many climate change skeptics up on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“In 2002 IFAW sounded the alarm bell that climate change could have a serious impact on harp seals. Now, we are seeing these devastating effects and there are virtually no seal pups to be found. For the second year in a row, record-low ice coverage means that harp seal pups are being found on land, which is highly unusual,” said Sheryl Fink, director of the IFAW seal program. “Many of these pups have been abandoned by their mothers prematurely, they are exposed to predation and disturbance, and few can be expected to live.”
IFAW points out that instead of adjusting the annual seal quota downwards to reflect the new reality of diminishing population, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans actually announced an increase in the harp seal quota, from 330,000 to 400,000 animals. Sheryl Fink calls this a “pathetic and transparent attempt to win the votes of fishermen.” “Once again the Conservative Party is ignoring science, ignoring the obvious effects of climate change on our environment, and ignoring the economic reality that markets for seal products are disappearing,” she said. Sounds familiar.
IFAW says that despite Canadian government’s claims that there is a market for seal products, many processors are no longer buying seal pelts and the livelihood of many sealers is in danger. The Conservative government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has defied economic reality and world opinion by publicly backing the annual seal slaughter. So proud is the Canadian government of this barbarism that it even went so far as to serve seal meat in the Parliamentary restaurant in Ottawa last year; a big middle finger to the European Union, which now bans the import of seal products.
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