Canadian Seal Hunt Is Justified,
Protest is Not
Ottawa, 15 March 2005: IWMC, the world's
leading pro-sustainable use conservation group, today praised Canada's harp seal
harvest for being science-based and criticized a protest campaign and potential
boycott of Canadian fisheries for being overly simplistic and self-indulgent.
With a burgeoning harp seal population of 5
million, and a clear imbalance in the eco-system between seals and other
wildlife such as fish, whales and seabirds, Canada authorized an expanded
three-year quota of close to one million harp seals beginning in 2003. Seal
harvests are regulated by Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the
basis of stock assessments and sustainable yields. Contrary to the claims of
protestors, this harvest does not threaten the harp seal with extinction.
The sealing industry in Canada dates back to
the 18th century and has been regulated since 1961, with quotas first being
introduced in 1971. Annual harvests of harp seals averaged approximately 170,000
before an import prohibition was introduced by the European Union in 1983.
Deprived of its main market for seal products, annual harvests dropped to an
average of only around 39,000. Today, Canadian fishermen sell seal pelts, seal
fat and seal oil to consumers in the Far East.
The seal hunt protest is being conducted by
some of the world's wealthiest and most powerful non-governmental organizations
(NGOs). The animal rights campaign groups fail to acknowledge that the Canadian
harp seal harvest is sustainable or that it benefits other species by
controlling the rapid growth of one of the region's main predators. The
protestors are hoping to orchestrate a boycott of Canadian fisheries, which was
valued at $4.5 billion in 2004 and is the country's largest single food export.
Eugene Lapointe, President of IWMC, said:
"The best way for consumers to encourage conservation is to buy products
from countries like Canada that promote the sustainable use of wildlife. The
type of boycott being promoted by the protestors is pointless and could actually
be counter-productive if it discourages the scientific management of wildlife in
international conservation programs."
IWMC accepts the campaigners' right to peaceful
protest but believes the groups should be more open about their overall
objectives. The NGOs driving the campaign either aim to stop the hunting of all
wildlife, irrespective of abundance, or to end the human consumption, or use, of
animals. IWMC believes that much of the protestors' publicity material is also
deliberately misleading and emotive. One of the most outrageous claims is that
all marine mammals are faced with extinction. Another is the use of the term
"seal war" to describe the protest campaign.
Mr. Lapointe added: "The protestors are
living in the past. To facilitate change these days, advocacy groups need to
have solid facts and offer workable solutions. You can't just rely on a mix of
emotion and spin, topped with a boycott. This campaign is outdated, simplistic
and self-indulgent and deserves to be firmly rejected."
IWMC supports the right of Canadian fishermen
to support their families and protect their livelihoods by harvesting abundant
seals and believes Canada's seal management program provides a model for other
countries to follow.
For further information,
contact Eugène Lapointe
Florida: +1(727) 734-4949 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org