The Canadian government approves near half million quota for a 2015 seal hunt despite protests for banning the practice.
The Canadian government has come under great scrutiny for upping their seal hunt quota from 400,000 last year to 468,000 this year. This event is the largest marine hunt on the planet. While hunters there see nothing wrong with this large-scale slaughter, many believe their practices of killing and the prolific culling to be inhumane.
Since most fully-grown adult seals must be shot to be taken down, most hunters turn their sights to the weaker, younger pups. They can be struck over the head with clubs or a modified pickax, called a hakapik, to crush their skulls before being drug away to be processed.
This recent increase is being called reckless, especially in light of a recent near-global ban on most seal-based products. This includes seal pelts, oils made from their blubber, and the males’ penises which are used in some places to make aphrodisiacs.
“The quotas are going up every year, despite opposition and the market for seal pelts disappearing,” said Andy Ottaway of the Seal Protection Action Group.
Climate change is also beginning to threaten the seals’ numbers. Harp seals rely on sea ice to give birth to and nurse their pups. Climate change is causing their ice habitat to deteriorate at an alarming rate. In recent years, the Canadian government has estimated up to 100 percent mortality for pups born in key whelping areas when the sea ice melted too soon.
Rebecca Aldworth, the executive director of Humane Society International Canada, made a public statement saying, “The Canadian government acknowledges that climate change is causing mass mortalities for these ice dependent seals, yet is still endorsing the largest mass slaughter of marine mammals on the planet. Instead of setting irresponsible and unsustainable seal quotas, our government should take immediate steps to end the commercial seal slaughter through a federal sealing industry buyout.”
Canada’s Fisheries Department (DFO) is defending the seal hunt saying it is approved by the Royal commission on Seals and Sealing which states, “the methods of hunting seals compare favorably to those used to hunt any other wild or domestic animals.”
DFO made a statement to MailOnline saying, “It is truly unfortunate that decades of misinformation by animal rights groups have had such a negative effect on the economic well-being of rural and Aboriginal Canadians. The overall Atlantic seal population, including harp seals, grey seals, and hooded seals is healthy and abundant. Harp seals are currently estimated at approximately 7.4 million animals which is more than three times what it was in the 1970s. The Government of Canada has been rock solid in its support for Canadian sealers. We will continue to stand up for trade fairness for this important, traditional way of life.”