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 user 2005-03-25 at 10:22:00 am Views: 47
  • #11070
    Canada gives seal hunt go-ahead
    Canada has given the go-ahead for what is expected to be one of
    the biggest seal hunts in the country for decades.

    The government says the hunt is now more humane and that more than 300,000
    seals can be killed this year.

    The seal population is reaching record levels as commercial fish stocks are
    vanishing, the authorities say.

    Animal rights campaigners, who say the hunt is cruel, have called for a
    boycott of Canadian seafood before the hunt which is due to start on 29 March.

    The two-month hunt takes place on ice floes off the Atlantic coast where the
    seals give birth.

    The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said in a statement that Canada’s seal
    population was healthy and abundant.

    “The harp seal herd – the most important seal herd for this industry – is
    estimated at around five million animals, nearly the highest level ever
    recorded, and almost triple what it was in the 1970s.”

    Large-scale hunting will be allowed to continue until the number falls to
    under four million.

    One official told the AFP news agency: “We have to do our job responsibly. We
    are looking at the middle ground, taking into account conservation and the
    economic needs of the region.”

    Uncomfortable images

    But anti-hunt activists, who say many animals are skinned alive and die in
    agony, say they will press ahead with the boycott.

    “I think that [the Canadian government] are feeling the heat… they can see
    the really serious implication of going ahead with the hunt this year,” said Pat
    Ragan, of the Humane Society of the United States.

    “We’re going to be encouraging consumers to enter into dialogue with their
    grocery stores and their restaurants and say ‘Please don’t serve Canadian
    seafood’ or ‘I won’t buy Canadian seafood until this hunt is over’,”.

    The seal hunt in Newfoundland and Labrador went into decline some 25 years
    ago, after images of hunters clubbing infant seals horrified TV viewers across
    the world.