Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

Canadian Baby Seal Slaughter Begins

by Beth Duff-Brown
Thousands to Be Part of Canada Seal Hunt
Tuesday, March 29, 2005

(03-29) 12:14 PST TORONTO, Canada (AP) --

Thousands of sealers armed with clubs, rifles and spears headed for the ice floes off eastern Canada on Tuesday for the world's largest seal hunt, one expected to bring poor coastal communities millions of dollars but condemned by animal rights activists as barbaric.

The contentious harp seal hunt, the target of protests since the 1960s, begins about two weeks after the seal pups are born and their fur changes from white to gray. Animal rights activists say the pups are clubbed to death and often skinned alive, but sealers and government officials who monitor the hunt insist the pups die instantly, under strict guidelines.

"It's just horrific out there. There is blood all across the ice and seal carcasses as far as the eye can see," Rebecca Aldworth of The Humane Society of the United States told The Associated Press from the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Tuesday.

"We've seen seals that were moving around and breathing, that have been left in these piles, some left conscious and crawling," said Aldworth, a native Newfoundlander who has observed the seal hunt for the past six years.

Regulations require that hunters ensure their prey is dead before moving on. Aldworth said she had listened to some seals crying, likely for their mothers, which whelp on the ice floes every spring.

Aldworth is filming the hunt and posting her findings on the Web.

Many countries, including the United States, ban imports of seal products.

But the Canadian government says the hunt brings badly needed income to its coastal communities, which earned about $16.5 million last year, primarily from pelt sales to Norway, Denmark and China.

Aboriginal and Inuit subsistence and commercial hunters begin the kill Nov. 15 in Canada's vast expanse of frozen northern waters, which reach from the Yukon Territories near Alaska through the Arctic Ocean and down into the North Atlantic off the Labrador coast.

The spring leg of the commercial hunt starts in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and moves to the Front, an arc of the Atlantic Ocean sweeping out about 30-40 miles from Newfoundland. Hunters were expected to kill more than 300,000 seals by May 15, when the federal, three-year plan ends, allowing sealers to harvest a total of 975,000 seals since 2003.

Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans says the country's seal population is "healthy and abundant," and notes that there are an estimated 5 million harp seals, nearly the highest level ever recorded and almost triple what it was in the 1970s.

Ed Frenette of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association told Canadian Broadcasting Corp. television that harp seal pelts were at an all-time high of $57, and opponents of the hunt ought to target buyers, not the fishermen who desperately need the income from the pelts.

Aldworth said there were some 70 fishing boats in the area where she was filming, about 20 miles south of the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, yet no government officials on the ground to check whether the seals were being properly killed.

Michel Therien, a spokesman for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, countered this. He said there were two large Coast Guard vessels in the region and one fisheries officer for every seven or eight commercial vessels.

"I presume they can't be in all the places, all the times, but we encourage the public to report any illegal activities, for sure," Therien said by telephone from Charlottetown.

He said the fishermen need to supplement their income, since many fishing families only earn about $9,800 a year from their catches of snow crabs, lobster or cod.

"They have to live on whatever they're capable of catching," Therien said. "The seal fisheries is part of their livelihood."

A report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, meanwhile, says the harvest of up to 975,000 seals will damage the marine mammal population.

"Any pretense of a scientifically based ... hunt has been abandoned and Canada's commercial seal hunt has become — quite simply — a cull, designed more to achieve short-term political objectives than those of a biologically sustainable hunt," the report said.

Fishermen participating in the hunt, however, blame seals and their voracious appetites for the devastation of Canada's fish stocks, in particular cod, and argue a cull is necessary.

The anti-sealing movement scored major victories in the 1970s and 1980s, convincing the United States and much of Europe to ban the import of pelts from white coat and young harp and hooded seals. The Canadian government in 1997 banned the killing of both in their first days, only allowing the pups to be hunted after they had shed their white coats.


On the Net:

Aldworth postings of her footage:

Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans:

by gena
On Tuesday, the largest commercial slaughter of marine mammals on the planet began off Canada's Atlantic coast. By the end of this year's hunt in May, more than 300,000 baby seals will have been brutally killed—many, incredibly, as young as 12 days old. The Humane Society of the United States has been on the front lines in Canada, reporting and videotaping events as they unfolded. Stand with us today as we continue to fight this atrocity and stop the seal hunt forever.
by heard it before
Stand with us today as we send mercenaries to invade another country and bend its people to our will.
by ...
Heaven help the Marine Mammal Protection Act if Nessie ever got a hold of it.
by more bunk logic
This is a straw man. Why wont these people address what I actually said?

Oh, right. Now I remember. Never mind.
by and by
those ruthless non-profits, with their damned cameras, "forcing" Canada to stop the seal slaughters by sheer will

of course, in the real world outside of your head, the "hunt" goes on as planned and the non-profits merely document and spread the word on what is going on up there (hoping that the few remaining countries that still buy seal fur will stop and therefore it would no longer be economically viable for the Canadian gov't to subsidize the hunt but more sensible for it to subsidize the retraining of the sealers instead)

quite a difference from the hyberbolic situation you lay out with *mercenaries* and *invasions* bending people's will as if through brute force

can you not tell the difference between a small ship of protesters in Canada with cameras and a full-scale U.S. occupation in Iraq bending wills with guns and bombs whereby tens of thousands of people die as a result? or does it all just blur together in your confused mind?
by yet the truth gets him right in the smacker
when asked, and given a chance to respond, it becomes clear that he can't at all tell the difference between a boat full of protesters and a full-scale armed invasion

these non-profit protestors with cameras indeed count as *mercenaries invading* another country to this "the sky is falling" arm-flailer. nevermind that the captain and founder of the Sea Shepherd group is Canadian (and hence must be *invading* his own country of birth) as well as many of their volunteers

such a great disservice to real wars and real deaths is done when he conflates protesting a hunt with killing thousands of people and conquering foreign nations for hire

but the man has no sense of scale nor perspective, and certainly he has no shame

The difference between a boat full of protesters and a full-scale armed invasion is one of scale, not type. It's like the difference between molotov and phosphorous bomb. Either way, if it hits you, you get burned.

Until Americans learn to stay home, instead of butting in where we're not wanted and throwing our weight around, the world will continue to hate and fear us. This assault on the working people of Newfoundland shames us all.
by Lulu (LSebbtide05 [at]
I am speechless to why there is still barbaric and shamefull slaughters of these precious animals....

by Sarah
Make your damn coats out of fake fur ass holes
by Jannel (jannelybelly [at]
how would u like it if someone came up to u and killed u for no reason one day when u were just living ur life ??? well that is what u are all doing to these seals its fucking nasty .... u all need to get a better life then this ... dont u have anything better to do in ur life then hurt these pour animals like get some fuckin morals or something .... i just wathced a video on it .. and if u all get a kick out of it u should go to a fuckin metal institution ... FUCKIN NASTY ... what did they do to u nothing they were just swimming around and u all go and do some bull shit like that .... gross as fuck ... i hope u all realize how bad ppl feel about this im crying because those lil animals were just living there life and u go and do that .... u wouldnt like it done to u so dont do it to them . AS IT SAYS IN THE BIBLE "DO ON TO OTHER WHAT U WANT DONE TO YOU" or something like that so just remember that ... i hate u all for that ...
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$60.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network