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The 2006-2010 Five Year Seal "Management Plan"

Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn Announced a Multi-Year Seal Management Plan in 2006

March 15, 2006

Ottawa - The Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), today announced the 2006-2010 Atlantic Seal Management Plan.

"We feel we have struck the appropriate balance between conservation and economic concerns," said Minister Hearn.

"The seal hunt is humane and sustainable and it is an important economic activity for sealers and communities in Atlantic Canada and Quebec."

The harp seal population increased steadily from the 1970’s through to the mid 1990’s. The population has remained relatively stable since then.

"The harp seal herd is abundant and healthy. It stands at approximately 5.8 million animals; nearly triple the size of the herd in the 1970’s," said Minister Hearn. "This is a conservation success story."

While the management plan spans five years, the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for harp seals will be set on an annual basis. The TAC for 2006 is 325,000. This TAC level is consistent with levels set in recent years. Setting an annual TAC provides flexibility to allow for adjustments to changing environmental conditions. Other factors, such as ice conditions, natural mortality, and incidental harvest or by-catch will be taken into consideration when setting future annual TAC levels.

An additional 10,000 harp seal allowance has been set aside for new Aboriginal initiatives, personal use and Arctic hunts. This one-year allowance will provide opportunities for Aboriginal communities to access the resource and benefit from this growing market.

New management measures being introduced in 2006 include a one-year sharing arrangement for the Gulf of St. Lawrence portion of the quota. It is hoped that a more permanent solution can be developed with industry in the future. The goal is to provide stability in access and reduce the competitive nature of the seal hunt.

DFO will continue to emphasize at-sea surveillance and conduct dockside checks, monitor quotas, and ensure humane hunting practices and the proper use of hunting instruments.

The department is also looking at long-term changes in order to further improve on humane hunting practices and overall management of the hunt.

The opening date for the 2006 harp seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence will be determined over the next week in consultation with industry. The opening date for the seal hunt on the Front, off the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador will be announced in a few weeks. The Front hunt does not typically open before April.

For additional information on the new multi-year management plan please see the attached backgrounder.

Backgrounder 2006-2010 Atlantic Seal Management Plan Highlights TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC) LEVELS

Harp Seals 325,000 for one year (2006).

An additional 10,000 one-year harp seal allocation for new Aboriginal initiatives, personal use and Arctic hunts. Interested groups are required to submit a Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) to DFO for approval prior to any hunting activity. The allowance will be divided among groups with approved CHPs.

The hunt of harp (whitecoat) seal pups has not been allowed since 1987. Marine Mammal Regulations also prohibit the trade, sale or barter of the fur of these pups.

Hooded Seals

A TAC of 10,000 hooded seals on the Front will be maintained for the 2006 season. The hunting of hooded seals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is prohibited. The TAC will be reviewed following the release of the new population estimate this spring.

The hunt of hooded (blueback) seal pups has not been allowed since 1987.

Grey Seals

The department set TACs at 2,100 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and 8,300 on the Scotian Shelf off Nova Scotia for 2006. These numbers are in line with Potential Biological Removal (PBR) levels established by DFO scientists. PBR is a highly conservative approach used in marine mammal management where some population parameters are lacking. This hunting season has opened and closed for 2006.

Ringed, Harbour and Bearded Seals

There are no TACs or allocations set on these species. Licences and permits will be used to control any commercial harvest for these species.

GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE QUOTA

A one-year allocation based on 10-year historical landings with consideration for Quebec North Shore will be allocated as follows:

Quebec North Shore 8, 0 %
Magdalen Islands 20,0 %

Western Newfoundland 70,0 %
Gulf/Maritime Provinces 2,0 %

The Quebec North Shore and Western Newfoundland have seen a decrease in accessible marine resources over the years and are the areas most economically in need of access to the seal fishery. In addition, they have often been excluded from the seal hunt because of harsh climates and ice conditions around the time when prime market animals are available.

The department will closely monitor daily landings and keep tight control with closures and measured re-openings to reduce the risk of quota overruns.

OBJECTIVE-BASED FISHERIES MANAGEMENT (OBFM)

DFO will continue to use OBFM to manage the seal hunt. OBFM and the Precautionary Approach were introduced in the 2003-2005 Seal Management Plan to demonstrate Canada’s commitment to conservation and sustainability in the hunt.

This model uses control rules and reference points to trigger management measures for a fishery.

Under the OBFM regime, where there is an abundant resource, the TAC is set in a way that facilitates a market-driven hunt that enables sealers to maximize their benefits without compromising conservation.

The 2006-2010 Atlantic Seal Hunt Management Plan document
is currently being prepared and will be available in the coming months and posted on our website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Phil Jenkins
Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
(613) 993-5413

Steve Outhouse
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Ottawa
(613) 992-3474

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