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article imageCanadian sealing season is extended to May 31

By Stephanie Dearing     May 12, 2010 in Environment
Ottawa - The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Minister, Gail Shea, issued an announcement Tuesday to say she had extended the annual seal hunt to May 31st.
The seal hunt was to end on May 15th, but the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said the deadline was extended to the end of May to allow sealers the chance to "... make use of their 2010 allocations and provide them with an extended period of time to take advantage of potential market opportunities," said the DFO press release.
Minister Gail Shea said the hunt was extended because "The seal harvest brings much needed income to thousands of sealers and their families in remote communities every year. Our government will continue to support these communities and ensure that they can make the best of their opportunities in these difficult economic times."
Shea also said the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was working to support sealers by helping to develop new markets. “Our government will continue to support the development of new markets for seal products both at home and abroad. Our focus is on creating long-term economic opportunities for Canadian sealers and their families.”
Even though the Department of Fisheries and Oceans spoke of market opportunities, AFP reported there were few buyers for seal skins, and most of the hunters had not gone out for seals this year because of the poor market conditions.
The seal hunt was actually supposed to close early this year, not just because of a lack of markets for seal products, but also because of the poor ice conditions.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare posted a statement that said Shea was mistaken, the DFO was not extending the hunt, but was in fact closing the hunt down early.
Canadian spokesperson for IFAW, Sheryl Fink said "A look at the Marine Mammal Regulations shows that the close date for the commercial harp seal "harvest" is June 15, not May 15. In effect, the Minister has shortened the seal hunt, rather than extended it!!!
While we'd like to thank the Minister for unwittingly cutting short the cruel and wasteful seal slaughter, one has to wonder: when a Minister is so unaware of the basic regulations surrounding her own seal hunt, how can anything she says possibly be believed?
In addition, it appears as though this whole announcement is a farce. Minister Shea's grand display of support for the sealing industry, to "allow sealers more time" to kill seals is nothing more than show: a conversation with a DFO representative today confirmed that there is only a single boat out sealing at this time."
At last count, the Telegram reported that approximately 60,000 seals had been harvested by the end of April. There has been no further news as to hunting conditions or whether sealers were continuing to hunt.
More about Department fisheries oceans, Gail shea, Sealing season
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