A Harp Seal lies on an ice floe in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. (Photo: Getty Images)
Despite protest from government-appointed scientists, a slew of global seal-product boycotts, and overwhelming opposition from the Canadian people, Canadian Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield has set a quota that allows for the slaughter of 400,000 seals this hunting season, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Ninety-eight percent of the seals killed in this slaughter are less than three months old.
"Given the devastating impacts of climate change on the ice dependent seals, a responsible government would take immediate action to protect seal populations through a federal sealing industry buyout, instead of encouraging the pointless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of defenseless seal pups."
A leading Canadian government scientist publicly called for a reduction in the quota of at least 100,000 animals to address the impact of climate change in recent years. Environment Canada predicts that the Gulf of St. Lawrence and northeast Newfoundland will have very little sea ice left by the time the seal slaughter opens.
Meanwhile, the global market for seal products is disappearing—the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, and Belarus prohibited the import and export of harp seal fur, and the United States and the European Union, Canada’s biggest trading partners, have stopped trading in seal products.
Humane Society International/Canada is calling on the Canadian government to support a federal buyout of the commercial sealing industry, which would compensate fishermen for lost income as the slaughter ends and invest money in developing economic alternatives for affected communities.
On average, sealers are commercial fishermen and earn less than five percent of their annual incomes from killing seals. The bulk of their earnings come from harvesting crab, shrimp, and lobster.