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* Canada files claim
against Sea Shepherd ship

* DFO tense over seal hunt

* Newfoundland's anti-sealing protest expenses

* Sealing and fishing violations net convictions

* Poll shows Canadians oppose hunt subsidies

* EU criticizes observer rules

* Canada to deport protesters

* Protesters arrested on protest ship

* Protesters spark anger

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Seal Hunt 2008 - Sealing and Opposition


Feds file $487,000 claim against the Farley Mowat

Marianne White
Canwest News Service Saturday, November 29, 2008


Sea Shepherd's Farley Mowat ship (c) Sea Shepherd

QUEBEC -- The federal government has filed a statement of claim of $487,000 against the seal hunt protest vessel Farley Mowat, owned by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, to recover the costs it has incurred to maintain the ship since it was seized last April during the annual hunt.

"The Government of Canada filed that statement of claim against the Farley Mowat (Thursday)," Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesman Phil Jenkins told Canwest News Service Friday.

The ship has been in the custody of the government and tied up at Sydney, N.S., since it was raided on April 12, 2008 for allegedly encroaching on seal hunters near Cape Breton 12 days earlier.

The RCMP, transported by the coast guard, commandeered the ship and arrested 17 crew members. In the end, only the captain and first mate of the anti-sealing vessel were charged with approaching within about a kilometre of the seal hunt without a permit.

The U.S.-based society maintains the ship was in international waters observing the hunt at the time.

Sea Shepherd Society leader Paul Watson was in Australia Friday and not available to comment on the statement of claim. But in an interview earlier this week, Watson said his group is preparing a lawsuit against the government to seek $30,000 for each month its vessel remains seized.

The statement of claim filed by the Canadian government includes security, shipyard and berthing expenses, as well as marine survey costs incurred between April 12 and the end of November.

The vessel is worth about $750,000, according to its owners.

On top of the $487,000, the government also paid for air surveillance to track the Farley Mowat, travel and overtime for fishery officers and coast guard surveillance, according to documents obtained under access to information laws by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and handed over to Canwest News Service.

The costs attached to air surveillance and expenses for fishery officers were not detailed in the documents. But logs show that the icebreaker George R. Pearkes spent 283.52 hours -- or nearly 12 days -- between March 29 and April 14 to support the RCMP in tracking and seizing the Farley Mowat.

Government officials refused to provide the cost to operate the icebreaker Pearkes for a day, arguing it is not related to the Farley Mowat case because the icebreaker is owned by the government and the crews are on salary.

The department has said in the past it costs $40,000 per day to operate another icebreaker, the Amundsen, but it is larger than the Pearkes and contains equipment dedicated to Arctic research.

Moreover, the government will also have to pay for legal fees related to the court case against two Farley Mowat crew members. Both parties are due back in court for trial in April 2009.

Paul Steele, director general of DFO's protection and conservation branch, noted in an e-mail to the department's top managers in May that these legal costs are going to be "significant" and that they put a financial "pressure" on his branch.

Jenkins said that the overall costs borne by the government in the Farley Mowat case are simply "the cost of enforcing the law."

© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008

 


 

Even DFO employees get tense over seal hunt

Marianne White
Canwest News Service

Monday, November 17, 2008

The seal hunt is an annual rite that pits governments and sealers against animal rights groups, but documents obtained by Canwest News Service show the issue gives rise to tensions even inside the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.


A Harp seal pup lays on an ice floe last March in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence near Charlottetown, P.E.I.
Getty Images File Photo

Hundreds of e-mail exchanges between DFO employees over the course of the seal hunt in March and April 2008 provide a rare glimpse into the work of the department and how it deals with observers who follow the hunt.

Every year, dozens of people ask for permits to observe the seal hunt off the Atlantic coast and most of them are journalists or activists from of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) or the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

DFO employees have to screen and interview each applicant, a process that is "time-consuming," according to one employee.

Numerous, sometimes heated e-mails exchanged during the hunt focus on the observation permits: How many were issued, how many people asked for one, who is going to interview the applicants and when the permits were issued.

Exasperation and friction is evident in some e-mails where references are made to "scathing phone calls" with observers and where animal right activists are called "complainers."

In a reply to Foreign Affairs question when a British MP complained about the treatment British observers received in Canada, a DFO manager said that the politician has fallen for the observers' rhetoric. The manager explained that observers wanted their permits in hand on the eve of the hunt, but that DFO could not issue them before the next morning to keep a balance between sealers and observers.

"The anti-groups understand well this proportionality, but it never stops them from complaining loudly to anyone who does not understand that year after year these same complainers receive observers licenses. The complaining is an annual piece of theatrics that unfortunately many people fall for," writes Phil Jenkins, acting manager of media relations for DFO.

That emphasis on observation permits seems to annoy other DFO employees.

"I wonder if we could spend a similar amount of time on the number of sealers checked, the number of warnings and number of charges laid? It seems there is only one observer group currently operating and they do not seem to have too much difficulty finding imagery showing failure to follow the regulations," wrote DFO scientist Mike Hammill in an e-mail to several colleagues.

"Observers enforcement, unless hunters begin making significant numbers of complaints, is a red herring," he added.

In a telephone interview Hammill stood by his comments.

"The thing is that you have everybody in Ottawa trying to get all this information to get a good idea of what is going on, but most of them have never been on the ice and they don't know really know what it's like, and you get the impression that all they are concerned about is observers," Hammill said.
© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008

 


 

N.L. outlines anti-seal protest expenditures
$167,000 spent over past two fiscal years

Article online since September 22nd 2008, 10:15

By Rob Antle

FOR THE SOU’WESTER

Transcontinental Media/The Telegram

The Williams administration in Newfoundland and Labrador spent $167,000 over the past two fiscal years as part of a pro-sealing, anti-protest campaign.

The cash investment - allocated at $100,000 per year - was unveiled in the 2006 budget, as a "sealing industry communications strategy to counter the fiction and fabrication with facts."

Transcontinental Media’s The Telegram newspaper obtained details of how the province spent the cash using access-to-information laws. A fair chunk of the money – $26,880 in 2006/07 and $42,720 in 2007/08 – went to the Fur Institute of Canada, a non-profit lobby group for the fur industry.

That total of nearly $70,000 helped organize two anti-protest events held in the past year and a half.

Those included the 2007 "Up the Anti" pro-sealing rallies held from Ottawa to the Netherlands, and the 2008 "Swilers Ball" in St. John's.

According to government documents, the province paid the Fur Institute for costs that included "transportation for both national and international seal industry representatives and organization of meetings with federal government members."

The documents reference a contract between the government and Fur Institute, but provide no further details.

Other provincial anti-protest expenditures over the two-year period include: $50,000 for a manual and quality practices video for sealers; $10,000 for photography of seal-hunt activities; nearly $10,000 for the production and distribution of media kits throughout the European Union; more than $20,000 in travel expenses, both within the province and to Europe; and more than $4,000 in local magazine advertising.

In 2006, while condemning actress Pamela Anderson for her anti-seal hunt comments at the Junos, Premier Danny Williams said there would be "a definitive strategy that will be developed over a period of time" for the $100,000 annual allocation.

Earlier this year, then-fisheries minister Tom Rideout attacked Ottawa for what he called a "defeatist attitude," and took credit for victories on the pro-sealing front.

The European Union is expected to vote this fall on a bill that could ban the import of Canadian seal products.

 


 

Lobster, seal and cod fishery violations net convictions

The Telegram
15/08/08

Three men from the community of Burnt Islands have been convicted for violating the Fisheries Act related to lobster harvesting.

In May, fishery officers from the Port Aux Basques detachment of Fisheries and Oceans Canada investigated unmarked lobster traps being set near the community of Burnt Islands. The officers conducted a boat patrol and discovered six unmarked lobster traps.

An enforcement operation was initiated and lobsters implanted with micro clips were placed in each of the six unmarked traps. Fishery officers then conducted a stakeout of the area and observed three individuals hauling two of the untagged traps from the water. A subsequent at-sea inspection recovered all six lobsters that had been implanted with micro chips. Following the inspection, fishery officers patrolled the coastal waters near the community of Burnt Islands and found additional unmarked traps. In total, 13 traps and 54 lobsters were seized as part of this operation.

In July 2008, at provincial court in Port Aux Basques, Everett James was convicted of using untagged traps and possession of lobster caught in contravention of the Fisheries Act, and sentenced to a 14 day licence suspension at the start of the 2009 fishing season. Lobster valued at $297.50 as well as 13 lobster traps were also forfeited.

Wallace James Sr. and Kevin Courtney were also convicted as parties to the offence and each was sentenced to a $500 fine, payable under a Fisheries Act order which stipulates the funds be used to promote conservation and protection of fish habitat in relation to lobster in Western Newfoundland and Labrador, specifically through stewardship activities and events.

In another case, a man has been convicted of two seal-related offences under the Fisheries Act.

In April 2007, John Gaslard Jr. of Port au Choix was charged by fishery officers from the Rocky Harbour detachment for failing to administer a blinking reflex test as soon as possible after a seal is shot to confirm that it is dead, and for failing to use an approved instrument to fish for seals.
In June 2008, in provincial court at Port au Choix, Gaslard was convicted and fined $500 for each offence and he and his vessel are prohibited from participating in the first day of the 2009 seal hunting season.
In another case, in September 2006, DFO investigated potential violations by two fish harvesters involving the misreporting of catch.
In July 2006, Randy Woodward of Northern Boat Harbour, as per the stipulations of his licence, called the dockside monitoring company for an authorization number to land 2,500 pounds of cod harvested from Division 4R. Upon landing in Green Island Cove, Woodward’s catch was weighed during a random inspection by a dockside observer and the actual weight measured was found to be 4,826 pounds.

Subsequent investigation by fishery officers from the St. Anthony detachment led to charges on two counts for Randy Woodward and a charge on one count for Paul Woodward, also of Northern Boat Harbour.
In June 2008, in provincial court in St. Anthony, Randy Woodward was convicted of fishing with a vessel without being named in the licence and for producing records or documents containing false or misleading information for examination by a fishery officer. Paul Woodward was convicted of permitting another person to use his vessel, in fishing for cod, without being named in the licence. Randy Woodward was fined $750 and Paul Woodward was fined $500.

Individuals believing they have witnessed an infraction of the Fisheries Act should bring the information to the attention of their local DFO Conservation and Protection office.

 


 

Canadians Speak Out on the Commercial Seal Hunt: Not with our Money!

Published: July 15, 2008

OTTAWA, ONTARIO - (Marketwire - July 15, 2008) - A new nation-wide poll released this week, conducted by Environics Research on behalf of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), shows that not only do Canadians want the commercial seal hunt stopped, but they also want the government to stop spending tax dollars defending it overseas. "The Canadian public is saying enough is enough." said Sheryl Fink, Senior Researcher for IFAW. "Canadians simply do not approve of the federal government continuing to waste their hard-earned tax dollars on the commercial seal hunt."

When asked their opinion about the commercial seal hunt, 79% of Canadians polled said the government should stop spending money and effort defending the commercial hunt and focus on more important issues instead.

"The recent actions by the federal government to defend and support the commercial seal hunt are completely at odds with what the Canadian public actually wants" noted Fink.

Last week, Fisheries Ambassador Loyola Sullivan acknowledged that the Canadian government has recently held between 170 and 180 meetings defending the seal hunt in Europe alone. Yet, three-quarters (75%) of Canadians said they were opposed to the use of tax dollars to send delegations to Europe to promote Canada's commercial seal hunt.

"The government of Canada is clearly misrepresenting the level of Canadian public support for the commercial seal hunt to the European Union," said Fink.

With a trade ban announcement on seal products expected from the European Commission this month, the poll found that an overwhelming majority (86%) of Canadians believe the EU should be allowed to restrict trade in seal products, if it so chooses. In addition, those polled also said they opposed the Canadian government's recent move to challenge trade bans in Belgium and the Netherlands at the World Trade Organization.

"Instead of wasting tax dollars on a dying industry, Canadians want the federal government to invest in sustainable, long-term opportunities that befit all Canadians."

Details of the polling results are provided in a report available at http://www.ifaw.ca.

Cell.: 613-852-0589

Copyright © 2008, NewsBlaze, Daily News

 


 

EU official criticizes Canada for blocking seal hunt observers

Peter O'Neil, Europe Correspondent
Published: Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stavros Dimas
EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas listens to journalist at a press conference 16 November 2006 during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the UN complex in Nairobi.AFP/Getty

PARIS - Canada fumbled its chance to prove once and for all that its critics are wrong in asserting that the seal hunt is cruel and inhumane, Europe's environment czar said Thursday.

EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas listens to journalist at a press conference 16 November 2006 during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the UN complex in Nairobi.AFP/Getty

European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the Canadian government, which complains that the EU is being manipulated by anti-sealing groups spreading misinformation, blocked a team of European experts sent on a fact-finding mission during the 2007 hunt.

"If a team of experts wasn't able to look at what is happening, and how it is being conducted, why do they (the Canadian government) claim that other evidence is not correct?" Dimas, in Paris to attend a major climate change conference, told Canwest News Service.

"I don't know whether it was bad faith. I don't think so. But the fact is they were prevented from doing what they were going to do."

The comment from Dimas, who said he will present legislation soon to ban all seal product imports into Europe, represented a two-pronged attack Thursday on the embattled Canadian industry.

The second assault was launched domestically when Green Leader Elizabeth May denounced the hunt and called for its permanent closure.

She said the hunt is "inherently inhumane," dangerous for workers, produces little economic benefit and hurts Canada's reputation abroad.

"Taxpayers' dollars have been wasted on a grand show for the European Union, complete with an expensive propaganda campaign and lobbying effort," May said in a statement.

She also criticized the recent arrest of crew members and detention of the Farley Mowat, a hunt observation vessel operated by Paul Watson's Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn shot back that May "has chosen to parrot propaganda from a militant organization which jeopardized the safety of sealers instead of standing up for Canadians in coastal communities."

Canadian Fisheries Conservation Ambassador Loyola Sullivan, who has just returned from a tour of European capitals, said the EU delegation announced the trip at the last minute and was denied access to the 2007 hunt for safety reasons.

"We entered into the heaviest period of ice you can imagine. We had 100 vessels stranded. We had vessels lost in ice. They had to be airlifted to save human lives," Sullivan said in an interview.

"And it wasn't practical to use our fisheries patrol vessels or coast guard vessels to move people out to the ice when we had human life at stake."

He said EU delegations would always be welcome to observe the hunt under normal circumstances, and lamented the body's apparent intention of imposing a ban without being fully informed.

The Canadian government has pointed to a 2006 anti-seal hunt resolution that passed overwhelmingly in the European Parliament. It declared that almost half of harvested seals are skinned alive. Canadian officials note that this claim was refuted last December by the EU's own European Food Safety Authority.

That same report also recommended that sealers bleed seals after they are clubbed or shot if there is any indication the seals aren't dead prior to being skinned. That step was introduced by the Canadian government as a requirement for this year's hunt.

The EU's apparent determination to impose a ban unless there is irrefutable proof that all harvested seals are killed quickly and humanely is neither realistic nor fair, Sullivan said.

Imposing those standards broadly "would shut down every wild hunt and every slaughterhouse in the world."

Sullivan said the EU, despite promising to make a decision based on facts rather than emotion, appears to be denying Canada "due process" to defend the hunt.

"I think it doesn't speak well for democracy."



 

Canada to deport 2 seal hunt protesters

Published: April 16, 2008 at 4:04 PM

SYDNEY, Nova Scotia, April 16 (UPI) -- Two European seal hunt protesters arrested last week for being too close to a Canadian ship off Nova Scotia are being deported, one of them said Wednesday.

In Sydney, Peter Hammarstedt, 23, the first officer of the anti-sealing vessel, the Farley Mowat, told the Canwest News Service he will be sent back to his native Sweden on Friday. He said co-accused Alexander Cornelissen of Amsterdam and the ship's captain would also be flown back to the Netherlands.

"Once again the thing we're being accused of doing is allegedly being within a half a nautical mile of someone skinning a seal alive, and for that Canada deports us," Hammarstedt said.

The men appeared in court Monday and were freed on $10,000 bail and ordered to stay away from the seal hunt.

They and 15 other members of the Washington-based Sea Shepherd Society were aboard the Dutch-registered ship when police and federal officials boarded and arrested them.

The ship is moored in Sydney, temporarily impounded by the Canadian government, the report said.

 

 


 

Two arrested as authorities board seal hunt protest ship

Sealer About to Strike Seal
A sealer chases a harp seal with his hakapik on the ice off the northwest coast of Newfoundland, April 11, 2008. Paul Darrow/Reuters

Sat Apr 12, 2008 5:47pm EDT

TORONTO (Reuters) - Authorities have boarded a ship that was protesting against the annual seal hunt and arrested its captain and first officer, the government said on Saturday.

Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn said in a statement that the vessel, the Farley Mowat, had been boarded to "help ensure the safe and orderly conduct of the seal hunt."

But the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which owns the ship, said the vessel had been outside Canada's 12-mile (19-km) territorial limit.

"This is an act of war," Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd said in a statement. "The Canadian government has just sent an armed boarding party onto a Dutch registered yacht in international waters and has seized the ship."

The annual seal hunt off Canada's Atlantic coast has long been the target of protest groups who each year broadcast graphic pictures and videos in their efforts to force Canada to stop shooting or clubbing seals to death.

The furs are made into coats and other clothes, and there is a growing market for seal oil, which is high in omega-3 fatty acid.

The government, which this year set a quota of 275,000 animals from an estimated 5.5 million, says the cull of young harp seals safeguards fishing stocks and guarantees a livelihood for people in the area.

The government said last week it had charged the captain and first officer of the Farley Mowat for getting too close to the hunters and obstructing fisheries officers.

The ministry released a picture that it said showed the Sea Shepherd closing in on a hunting ship.

"The government of Canada has taken action to protect the safety and livelihoods of Canadian sealers by boarding and seizing the Farley Mowat to arrest its Captain and Chief Officer for alleged violations of Canada's Marine Mammal Regulations," Hearn said on Saturday.

"We will continue to protect sealers while ensuring the sustainable and humane management of the hunt so it continues to provide economic opportunities for Canada's coastal communities in the future."

Last month, several hunters died when their vessel hit ice and capsized in the icy waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

(Reporting by Janet Guttsman; Editing by Alan Elsner)



 

Canadian seal hunt protestors spark anger

April 4, 2008

OTTAWA (AFP) — Animal rights activists came under fire Friday for comparing the deaths of four sealers to the fate of hunted seals, and face possible charges for interfering in Canada's annual seal cull.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said in a statement that "the deaths of four sealers is a tragedy," but added "the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seal pups is an even greater tragedy."

Green Party leader Elizabeth May immediately quit the society's advisory board, while Fisheries and Oceans Minister Loyola Hearn said he would "pursue charges" against the seal hunt protestors.

"We will not tolerate the reckless antics of the Sea Shepherd Society," said Hearn, alleging the society's trawler the Farley Mowat this week "attacked" a Coast Guard vessel and endangered sealers' lives.

"We will protect our sealers," he told parliament.

The Sea Shepherd clan countered that it "has broken no laws" and asserted the right of its Farley Mowat crew to navigate freely outside Canada's 12-mile limit to document the "cruel" slaughter of seals.

Sealers routinely face shifting ice, high winds, freezing temperatures and unpredictable seas during the controversial seal hunting season which kicked off a week ago on March 28.

One vessel was forced to return to port last week after being hit by huge chunks of ice.

On Saturday, a boat accident left three sealers dead and one missing. The 12-meter (40-foot) trawler encountered steering problems and later capsized while it was being towed back to port by the Coast Guard.

But Sea Shepherd's Paul Watson said "these men are sadistic baby killers."

"They are vicious killers who are now pleading for sympathy because some of their own died while engaged in a viciously brutal activity."

"One of the sealers was quoted as saying that he felt absolutely helpless as he watched the boat sink with sealers onboard." Watson said.

"I can't think of anything that defines helplessness and fear more than a seal pup on the ice that can't swim or escape as it is approached by some cigarette-smoking ape with a club."

A spokesman for Elizabeth May told AFP: "We're opposed to the seal hunt, but we want sealers to be safe. To compare the tragedy of the deaths of sealers to the seal hunt is unacceptable to us."

Earlier, fishermen in the French isles of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon off Canada's East Coast cut the moorings of the docked Farley Mowat, witnessed by an AFP correspondent, to show solidarity with Canadian sealers mourning their comrades.

Activists also said that the government on Thursday grounded a US Humane Society helicopter used to observe the hunt.

Earlier Alex Cornelissen, captain of the Farley Mowat, said the Canadian Coast Guard had "declared war on seal defenders," saying his vessel was "twice rammed" in the port stern in the Gulf of St. Lawrence late Sunday after he ignored warnings not to approach sealers.

Officials said the Farley Mowat was "grazed" and there was no damage nor injuries reported.

Hearn accused activists of "attempting to provoke a confrontation" with the Coast Guard ship by maneuvering the Farley Mowat in front of the vessel.

Such tactics "jeopardize the safety and security of people involved in the annual seal hunt," the minister said, urging the Farley Mowat to withdraw from the area.

Ottawa maintains the hunt poses no threat to the harp seal population, and insists the commercial cull is humane and an economic mainstay of its Atlantic Coast communities.

The harvest limit was set at 275,000 harp seals this year, up 5,000 from last year.

The Farley Mowat's spokeswoman Shannon Mann said: "We've seen seals suffering in agony on the ice. We've seen enough to know that Canada's claim that the seal hunt is humane has no credibility."

 


 

Seal hunt protesters will be charged, Hearn says

The Canadian Press April 3, 2008 at 9:18 AM EDT

Canadian Coast Guard Protects Sealers
A Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker keeps watch on the Sea Shepherd conservation society vessel Farley Mowat off the coast of Cape Breton on March 30. (Paul Darrow/Reuters)

ST. JOHN'S — Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn says charges will be laid in connection with an alleged incident involving the seal hunt protest vessel Farley Mowat.

Sealers contend that the vessel came too close to them on the ice north of Cape Breton last weekend, even after being warned away by the Coast Guard.

Mr. Hearn asserted in an interview with radio station VOCM that the conservation groups broke a law that requires them to maintain a specific distance from the hunt.

“They've been very cute. These people are smart. They've been around. They know the law. They know how they can flaunt it,” Hearn said.

“However, they push it and in some cases, recently, they've broken it. They cannot approach within half a mile of our sealers. They have done that.”

Protest leader Paul Watson, president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has denied allegations that the Farley Mowat got too close to the hunt and insists his ship was rammed twice by the coast guard icebreaker Des Groseilliers on the weekend.

The Farley Mowat is currently in St. Pierre-Miquelon and remains out of Canadian waters.

Mr. Watson said the 54-metre long ship was intentionally hit in the stern while stopped.

 


 

Activists allege cover-up in seal hunt
'This says to the world that there is something to hide'

Marianne White
Canwest News Service

Friday, March 28, 2008

Animal welfare activists accused the Canadian government yesterday of denying them access to the start of the seal hunt to cover-up the annual harvest.

The hunt was to begin half an hour before dawn today in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, but observers and journalists will not be able to document it because they were not issued permits by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

"The government is determined to do everything in its power to stop people from documenting what happens on the ice flows," charged Rebecca Aldworth, director of Canadian wildlife issues for the Humane Society of the United States.

"This says to the world that there is something to hide out on the ice flows off Canada's East Coast," she added.

The Department of Fisheries confirmed that it hasn't issued any permits for observers and explained it is holding off until it has a better idea of the sealing activity.

"We are not in the business of running a travel agency here and we have to make sure this is a safe and orderly hunt," said department spokesman Phil Jenkins.

He couldn't say how many permits had already been issued to sealers, but said a few vessels have left Quebec's Magdalen Island.

"We want to make sure we don't have a complete media circus above one or two or three sealing vessels," Mr. Jenkins stressed, adding the department received a record 60 permit requests to observe this year's harvest.

He said a decision will be made today on issuing permits to observers based on the number of sealing vessels involved in the harvest. The Humane Society was planning on taking journalists, mostly Europeans, to the first day of hunting today by boat and helicopter.

Another leading opponent of the seal hunt, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), said it will attend the first day of the hunt no matter what. "Regardless of whether we have the permits or not, we will use our helicopters to go observe the hunt," said Sheryl Fink, a senior researcher with the IFAW.

Ms. Aldworth said it's the first time in 10 years of documenting the seal hunt that she is not able to get permits to attend the kick off.

She blames it on the fact that the Canadian government is lobbying against a possible ban on seal products by the European Union that could come as soon as June. A delegation of Canadian officials and hunters heads to Europe today to make a plea for the controversial sealing industry.

"This is a first and I think it stands out given what is happening politically in Europe," Ms. Aldworth said.
© National Post 2008

 


 

Seal hunters, protesters head for the ice floes

Ken Meaney , Canwest News Service
Published: Friday, March 28, 2008

Harp Seal Pup
A harp seal pup lies on an ice floe March 24, 2008 in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in Canada. Canada's seal hunt is expected to start later this week and the government has said this year 275,000 harp seals can be harvested.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Sealers and observers headed to the ice floes Friday as the annual seal hunt began in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Animal welfare activists had accused the Canadian government Thursday of denying them observer permits as part of a "cover-up" of the hunt just as the European Union is weighing a ban on the import of seal products.

But on Friday, Phil Jenkins of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said 60 observer permits had been issued, "so the flap you saw yesterday afternoon about coverup and all that kind of stuff is nonsense and always was."

The Southern Gulf hunt is concentrated in the Cabot Strait area between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, but vessels have not yet reached the floes there because of heavy ice. Most of the hunters, so far, are from the Magdalen Islands. About 16 vessels were taking part in the hunt on Friday.

A separate hunt in the northern part of the gulf, between Newfoundland and Quebec, will likely open next week. The largest part of the hunt, off Newfoundland's northeast coast, will probably open the week after that, he said.

The Newfoundland hunt is responsible for about 70 per cent of the animals killed.

Observer permits were issued for groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. There were also permits for media organizations such as the United Kingdom's Sky TV.

Once on the ice floes, observers, who usually go to the hunt by helicopter, are allowed no closer than 10 metres to sealers.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare said the Canadian government was trying to limit access to the hunt while it works to lobby against a possible ban on seal products by the European Union that could come as soon as June.

The government denied the claim and said it is only driven by safety concerns.

A delegation of Canadian officials and hunters headed to Europe Friday to make their case for the sealing industry.

For this year's harvest, the government set a quota of 275,000 seal harps out of a population of nearly six million.

Canadian officials have long maintained the hunt is well-monitored and sustainable and Ottawa announced earlier this year that hunters will now have to take extra steps to ensure the seals die humanely.

© Canwest News Service 2008



 

Preparing for the hunt; Quotas, seal prices a concern for sealers

LEWISPORTE
BY DAVE COOPER
The Pilot
March 20, 2008

Sealer Prepares
Clyde Noble was busy last week doing maintenance on his vessel for the upcoming seal hunt. While the total allowable catch quotas announced are a consideration, Mr. Noble is more concerned about the price that will be set for seals this year, something he said they won’t truly know until they return from the harvest. Dave Cooper photo

Although no opening dates have yet been set for the 2008 seal harvest, quotas have been announced and they aren't sitting well with those involved in the industry.

With an estimated population of 5.5 million, the 2008 seal hunt quota of 275,000 isn't the news sealers wanted to hear.

Although the total allowable catch (TAC) has seen an increase of 5,000 over 2007, the Canadian Sealers Association was asking for a TAC of 300,000.

This allocation includes 2,000 seals for personal use, 4,950 seals for Aboriginal initiatives and a carry forward of 16,186 seals for those fleets who did not capture their quota from 2007. Once the carry forward is deducted, existing sharing arrangements remain in place, with the Front receiving about 70 per cent of the TAC and about 30 per cent for the Gulf. The 2008 hooded seal TAC has been set at 8,200 animals out of a herd of 600,000.

Local fisherman Clyde Noble is preparing his vessel to take part in the seal hunt again this year. Mr. Noble is relatively new to this fishery, this being his third year.

With an estimated population of 5.5 million seals, Mr. Noble described the quotas announced as less than a drop in the bucket.

With the quotas and the prices that are being offered for seals, Mr. Noble wonders if it is even worth it to be involved.

"The price is down on the seals, I'm hearing anywhere from $20 to $40 dollars, but you won't know the true price until you get out and get back," he said. "With the cost of fuel, if you are only going to get $20 a seal, if you get 500, you aren't even going to break even."

Another factor Mr. Noble said fisherpersons have to consider is the wear and tear on their vessel.

"When you look at it, pounding your boat through the ice is the same as running into rocks all day long," he said. "So if you are not going to get $80 or $100 for a seal, it is not worth going out for. It is hard on a vessel."

Despite that Mr. Noble said he still intends to take to the waters for the opening of this years seal hunt.

Opening dates for the 2008 harp seal hunt will be announced in the coming weeks, following consultation with industry.



 

Fishermen after higher grey seal quota

Last Updated: Friday, February 8, 2008 | 10:37 AM AT
CBC News

Prince Edward Island Sealers
The grey seal makes up only a small part of the current seal hunt. (CBC)

With new research suggesting a big increase in the population of grey seals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, fishermen in western P.E.I. are looking for a bigger hunt this year.

Grey seals are only a small percentage of the overall Canadian seal hunt, with most of the attention paid to the harp seal harvest. But grey seals are an issue for fishermen because they live, and eat, in the gulf year round.

"We're competing with the seal," said Shelton Barlow, head of the Prince County Fishermen's Association.

"We're going to try to win out, if we can."

Shelton Barlow - Sealer
Shelton Barlow says his group will be in Moncton to argue for higher quotas. (CBC)

Officials from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans are doing helicopter surveys of the seals this week to determine both how many seals there are, and when the hunt might start.

"Overall, there's about 300,000 animals in eastern Canada," the department's Mike Hammill said.

"The population has increased a fair amount since the '70s. Population back then was around 25,000 animals."

Barlow said representatives from his association will be in Moncton Friday at a meeting that will help decide the number of grey seals to be hunted this year. They will be pushing for an increase from last year's 12,000-animal quota.

 

 

 

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