East Coast grey seal hunt cancelled for lack of interest

It looks like this year’s East Coast grey seal hunt season might have already fizzled out due to a lack of markets.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada set February 28 as the official opening date, but Robert Courtenay, a spokesperson for Cape Breton sealers, told the Cape Breton Post on opening day: "We had to call everything off, so it doesn’t look good. I don’t think there will be anything going."

Courtenay said one buyer wanted a few hundred grey seals but couldn’t wait the necessary amount of time to deal with regulatory arrangements and paperwork.

In a release, Michelle Cliffe, Canadian spokesperson for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: "We are relieved that…the grey seal hunt for 2013 will not proceed. This is the second year in a row that lack of domestic and global demand for seal products has resulted in no hunt, clearly showing that the sealing industry is dying."

Cliffe also stated that it appears that an unrelated proposed grey-seal cull on Sable Island is "off the table".

Last year, only about eight grey seals died in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during a hunt that normally has a quota of more than 1,000 of the marine mammals. No animals were killed in 2012 on Cape Breton’s rocky Hay Island, a major killing ground for the seal hunters. Hay Island is off Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and is part of the protected Scaterie Island Wilderness Area.

Courtenay told CBC News in March 2012: "Some years we have taken up to 1,500 animals out of that area."

In January, Taiwan banned all marine-mammal products. At the time, that country was the world’s fourth-largest consumer of such goods. A Canada-China trade agreement that would allow export of edible seal products has not been ratified. In a January 2012 statement released prior to his China trip, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: "Our government will continue to vigorously defend this humane and highly regulated [seal] industry and to seek new international markets for Canadian seal products, including China."

Previously, the European Union, the United States, Mexico, and the Russian Federation have banned seal products.

According to the Humane Society International, Canadian seal processors admitted in 2010 that they have hundreds of thousands of seal furs stockpiled because they are unable to find buyers.

Comments (3) Add New Comment
Bridget Curran
This is indeed good news for grey seals! It's a huge relief to know the grey seal pups of Nova Scotia are safe. I'm still confused as to why DFO waited to open the grey seal season so late. The season for grey seals usually begins in early February and ends in early March. By February 28th most of the pups would have moulted and taken to the water. In past years, I recall sealers in Cape Breton slaughtering large numbers of grey seals in the Port Hood area in mid-February, particularly on Valentine's Day (that's how knuckle-dragging Cape Breton sealers celebrate the day of love. Nothing says "I love you" like a club to the head).

Also, I don't buy the story Courtney's selling about the regulatory paperwork. He had submitted a harvesting plan to DFO, it had been approved within 24 hours, and he and his cronies were set to go to Hay Island a couple of weeks ago. It was cancelled the day before he was set to go. No, I'd say there was no problem with regulatory paperwork. He either didn't have a buyer lined up (as he'd claimed) or his buyer wasn't as firmed-up as he'd thought.

Further, Courtney is being less than honest with his statement: "Some years we have taken up to 1,500 animals out of that area." In 2008 - the first year Hay Island was opened to commercial sealers - sealers beat to death 1,250 grey seal pups in two or three days. In 2009 there were no buyers but Fur Institute of Canada gave money to NuTan Furs (a Newfoundland processor) to purchase 200 skins as fabric samples for "potential buyers." In 2010 there was no hunt due to lack of buyers. In 2011 there were no buyers but Fur Institute of Canada director/wildlife pathologist Pierre-Yves Daoust decided he wanted to test low velocity bullets so roughly 200 seals were beaten and shot to death for "research". In 2012 there was no hunt due to lack of markets. So, really, the ONLY year they killed a large number of grey seals on Hay Island was 2008. Unless he's talking about years they went over and killed them illegally...

In any event, it is clear the commercial sealing industry is at an end. It is time the Canadian government ceases its political posturing and empty promises and implements a long-lasting solution to benefit everyone: a licence buyout.

Bridget Curran
Atlantic Canadian Anti-Sealing Coalition
38
25
Rating: +13
Coastguarder
" Stephen Harper said: "Our government will continue to vigorously defend this humane and highly regulated [seal] industry and to seek new international markets for Canadian seal products, including China." "

...just add this to the ever increasing list of reasons not to EVER vote for Stephen Harper or any political party he is affiliated with.
38
30
Rating: +8
Right On
this is totally awesome news.

finally.

thank the universe and all the people who made this happen.
21
26
Rating: -5
Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.