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Press Release

Sealing Community Responds to Senator Harb's Private Members Bill

Canada NewsWire

Bill to End the Commercial Seal Threatens the Livelihood of Canadian Families and Small Communities

OTTAWA, May 2, 2012 /CNW/ - Representatives of Canada's sealing community responded today to the legislation introduced in the Senate by Mac Harb to end the commercial seal hunt in Canada.

"Mr. Harb's claims are unfounded.  The Canadian sealing industry is very much alive and well," said Dion Dakins, Chair of the Seals and Sealing Network. "Consumer demand remains strong.  And with positive results at the WTO and the European General Court, we feel there will be a level trading field for seal products."

Exports between 2005 and 2011 were over $70 million (US) and seal products were exported to 35 different countries. The price for seal pelts has increased from 2009 levels at $15 a pelt to $20 - $25 a pelt in 2010 and 2011 and $32 in 2012.

"The Canadian sealing industry is crucial to the economies of Quebec, the Maritimes, and Canada's Inuit populations," added Rob Cahill, director of the Fur Institute of Canada and a leading actor in international relations for the Canadian seal industry.  "The seasonal source of income can account for up to 35 per cent of a sealer's annual income, and is available during a time of year when other rural employment opportunities are virtually non-existent."

Estimates from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador estimate that between 5,000 - 6,000 people acquire an income from the seal hunt for their families, communities and businesses. This amount is approximately one per cent of the total provincial population, and two per cent of its labour force.

"To put these statistics into context, this is similar to other locally-important industries such as crop production or forestry that each account for less than one per cent of Canadian GDP, but their local economic importance is undisputable," said Cahill.

Denis Longuépée, a sealer from the Magdalen Islands said, "The animal rights groups are harming our communities and this bill is just another attempt to crush a viable industry. The facts don't support their claim that our industry is disappearing." "The animal rights groups and Senator Harb do not understand the people in these communities."

Longuépée added, "Seal products harvested in our province and in parts of Atlantic Canada provide significant economic benefit to the regions, as well as other parts of the world." "With continued market demand for Omega-3 oils and emerging markets for the use of other seal products in research and development, and the traditional uses in furs and leather, we expect the market demand to keep growing."

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