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* Sea lion shot, rescued in San Diego

* Australian seal killer's home raided

* San Diego man guilty of beating seal pup to death

* New anti-sealing NL group releases video

* New seal skin tannery to open in Newfoundland

* Understanding seal movement to reduce conflict

* Guadalupe fur seals starving

* Aussie MEP says fur seals not protected from cull

* San Diego man accused of beating seal pup to death

* Larger numbers of under-nourished fur seals in NZ

* MEP's toughen EU seal product import ban

* Seattle 'seal-savers' inadvertently hurt seals

* Coorong man kills fur seals

* Harbor seal outsmarts orcas

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* Australian MP proposes fur seal cull

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* Sealing association disagrees with subsidies

* Canadian government subsidizes seal 'hunt'

* Seal found on Fairhaven beach dies

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* Nunavut subsidizes sealing

* Seal hunter fined $1,000

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* West Nova MP pushes bill to keep hunt observers away

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Other seal and sealing-related issues and articles

Note: we reprint articles as they are written, complete with erroneous information. We urge those who care about seals to educate themselves by perusing the various sections of our website and to respond to these articles with letters to the editor and web comments.

 


 

Already injured sea lion shot in face

By Hannah Mullins
December 15, 2015
10news.com

Sea lion shot - 10 News

SAN DIEGO - In October, 10News was on a foot patrol with Coast Guardsmen when one of them spotted a sea lion on the dock in Mission Bay.

Fishing line was wrapped so tightly around its neck, it had cut through the skin, and its eye was gouged out.

The Coast Guard members called SeaWorld, and a rescue crew came out, but there was not much they could do. A larger animal would not let anyone get close, and the sea lion slipped into the water.

Dr. Todd Schmitt, who is SeaWorld San Diego's Senior Veterinarian, went back with a tranquilizer dart. They got him, and were ready to catch him in the water. They had to be conservative with the dose, so he was still alert and kept evading them. After two hours, they had to give up on the chase.

"It's just one of those things that you know you want to help them, but you can't get close to them and that's part of wildlife," he said.

Schmitt was still concerned because the fishing line would be digging deeper and deeper.

"We could see the line was actually eating into the side of his face," Schmitt said. "That had actually healed over. Some of the line was buried under the skin."

Last week, the sea lion showed up on the dock again looking more frail.

Schmitt returned with a dart that contained a higher dose.

The rescue was not without risk. They had to have a boat in the water in case the animal fell in. Once they had the dock surrounded, Scmitt hit him with the tranquilizer dart, and they headed to SeaWorld.

They had the animal sedated and removed the fishing line. An X-Ray revealed what looked like a battle wound. There was shrapnel in its head. Someone shot him in the eye and the bullet got lodged in his jaw.

Schmitt was not sure who did it, but he had a theory.

"These animals may be desperate for food," he said. "[He was] probably following a fishing vessel."

He thinks a fisherman may have shot him. They plan to hand the bullet off to National Marine Fisheries to see if they want to do testing and go after the shooter.

"It's a horrific act that someone would do this to an animal that's really just trying to fend for themselves."

Regardless of how it happened, the sea lion should be healthy enough to head home in about a month.

"He looks fantastic," Schmitt said. "He's actually doing quite well."

Copyright 2015 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

 



Seal death inquiry team targets Aboriginal elder

December 15, 2015
The Australian

Darrell Sumner - Photo Matt Turner
Ngarrindjeri man Darrell Sumner at Meningie on the shores of Lake Albert. Picture: Matt Turner

The home of an Aboriginal elder has been raided by government officers following the killing of long-nosed fur seals, which have invaded the Coorong and wreaked havoc on native animals and fish stocks.

Ngarrindjeri man Darrell Sumner told The Australian that Environment Department compliance officers executed a search warrant on his Meningie property in South Australia’s lower lakes region last week. They told him they were looking for a club allegedly used to bash seals to death.

“They are just trying to justify their positions ... I’ve told them a few times to take me to court, charge me, do what you like, but nothing has happened,” Mr Sumner said. “They know this won’t just go to the magistrates court, but will end up in Canberra. This is about culture. My culture comes first. Let’s just wait and see what happens.”

Mr Sumner said the officers did not remove anything from his home. “The seals are apparently going out to breed now. When I go down to the Coorong I do now and again come across some dead seals, so someone else is killing them also,” he said.

As revealed by The Australian in August, Mr Sumner faces fines of up to $100,000 or two years’ jail as part of an Environment ­Department investigation after he publicly admitted killing at least four seals by clubbing them to death or chopping them with his boat propeller.

The resident of Meningie, a town at the northern end of the Coorong on the shores of Lake Albert, maintained he had a cultural responsibility to protect pelicans, swans, terns and musk ducks, significant indigenous ­totems, from being “slaughtered” by long-nosed fur seals.

The South Australian government has rejected calls from the opposition, fishing industry and traditional landowners for a cull. The fur seal population in South Australia has increased to more than 100,000.

Liberal opposition agriculture spokesman Adrian Pederick, who has unsuccessfully tried to pass legislation to sanction a cull, said authorities should caution Mr Sumner rather than prosecute him. He said if the state government tried to prosecute Mr Sumner, he might win on native title grounds, which could cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

A spokesman for South Australian Environment Minister Ian Hunter, who has ruled out a cull, declined to comment on the ­investigation into Mr Sumner.

An Environment Department spokeswoman declined to comment on “operational details of active investigations”

 


 

Man Guilty of Animal Cruelty for Bludgeoning Elephant Seal

By Andie Adams
December 11, 2015
nbcsandiego.com

Roy Lee Miller
Roy Lee Miller at his preliminary hearing

A 44-year-old transient was convicted of animal cruelty for bludgeoning an elephant seal pup to death near downtown San Diego.

A jury found Roy Lee Miller guilty of cruelty to endangered and protected creatures on Friday, according to the city clerk’s office. He faces eight years in prison at his Jan. 15 sentencing.

At Miller’s preliminary hearing, witness Mark Balentine testified that Miller believed the animal “needed to be put out of its misery.”

Balentine said last February, he and Miller were drinking a bottle of vodka and were extremely drunk on Spanish Landing when they encountered the seal.

They heard its squawking, which Balentine described as “a baby screaming.” Miller then took a rock and repeatedly hit the seal over the head, killing it.

A marine biologist who examined the seal after its death noted substantial bruising on the seal’s head, and at least seven fractures to its skull.

 


 

Save Our Seals launches new anti-seal hunt video

Nov. 24, 2015
The Telegram

A new group in this province has released a video, opposing the commercial seal hunt.

Save our Seals video activist
A screenshot from the Save Our Seals video

Save Our Seals says in a news release it was formed early in 2015 “with an aim of bringing together Newfoundlanders who are tired of their culture being defined by the commercial seal hunt, an industry that is increasingly viewed as unnecessary and wasteful.”

The video features Save our Seals members in scenic Newfoundland landscapes.

Each begins by saying how proud they are to be Newfoundlanders — but their pride does not extend to the commercial seal hunt. They each take aim at myths around the hunt — making it clear that most of the meat is not used, that only a few hundred sealers still participate, and that most of the financial support for the industry goes to the processors and marketers rather than benefitting sealers.

They all view the commercial seal hunt as outdated, and would like to see an end to commercial sealing, just as the province stopped hunting whales in the 1970s.

“I made this video for multiple reasons, but mainly because I wanted Newfoundlanders and Canadians to know there is a safe place where they can discuss and ask questions about the commercial seal hunt,” said Renee Gosse, co-ordinator of Save Our Seals. “I want to see more rational discussion about the commercial seal hunt; people should be able to discuss this issue freely without all of the emotion and anger associated with it.”

Gosse is hoping that raising the issue during the provincial election will show politicians that not all voters are in support of continuing financial support for the commercial sealing industry.

“The money going into the sealing industry isn’t helping those who need this financial support” said Gosse. “As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently noted — it’s 2015. It’s time to move beyond killing seals for their fur.”

The video can be viewed online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Jz3v8QB6lY

 


 

Seal tannery coming to Fleur de Lys

Nov 22, 2015
CBC News

Seal with sealing boat in distance - photo CBC
Once the seal tannery is operating in Fleur de Lys, the processing plant should employ 30-35 people year-round, says PhocaLux manager Shannon Lewis. (CBC)

Plans are underway for a new seal tannery in the Newfoundland community of Fleur de Lys.

The company PhocaLux is presently constructing the tannery, and has asked government for an environmental assessment.

Once that approval comes through in December, general manager Shannon Lewis said the tannery should be operating by the next day. They also want to expand their oil processing facility.

"We're not just a fur industry, we're not just a oil industry, we're not just a meat industry," said Lewis.

"Our plan is to make sure we're utilizing the full animal, so all the processing of the animal happens in Fleur de Lys."

PhocaLux International Inc. began operating in Fleur de Lys in April, removing the fat and oil from seal hides.

With the new tannery, the company will also dress the seal skin in preparation for clothing manufacturers. They also want to increase their seal oil exports.

Not just for clothes

Lewis said the industry also needs to bring attention to the nutritional benefits of eating seal meat.

"If we're going to prove to the world that this is a very viable natural resource that we're utilizing, we want to use 100 per cent of the commodities," said Lewis.

"When we can prove to the world that this is very important to your health, the sealskin is more of a byproduct. It's a very important commodity in the industry, but all three of things will make the industry sound for the future."

Lewis said that once the tannery is running, the company will employ 30 to 35 people year-round.

 


 

Understanding seal movement can help mitigate seal-fishery conflict

November 17, 2015
sciencecodex.com

Understanding the differences in the behaviour of different seal species can help in the choice of the most effective measures to mitigate the seal-fishery conflict and in the sustainable management of seal stocks. A new study from the University of Eastern Finland provides novel and detailed information of the movements of ringed seals and grey seals in the Baltic Sea. The PhD thesis of Sari Oksanen, MSc, discovered that Baltic ringed seals range over large areas during the open water season, while most grey seals remain on smaller areas near their terrestrial resting sites.

Seal sock - photo Mervi Kunnasranta
A seal sock allows a seal to breathe on the surface while it is trapped inside a trap net. Credit: Mervi Kunnasranta

Differences in behaviour call for different management approaches

The stocks of the Baltic grey and ringed seals collapsed during the 20th century and in the 1970s, both stocks consisted of only circa 5,000 seals. The populations have been recovering since the 1990s. At the same time, the losses caused by seals to coastal fisheries and fish farming have increased.

The differences in the behaviour of the seal species influence the effectiveness of the measures to mitigate the seal-fishery conflict and sustainable management of seal stocks. Only male grey seals were observed to visit pontoon traps, and grey seals made trips between their terrestrial resting sites and foraging areas. Their foraging areas were situated to river estuaries and other shallow coastal areas, which are also important for coastal fishery. The observed fidelity to given foraging areas suggests that removing individual seals away from fishing gear could be one method to mitigate the damage caused by grey seals. Such removal would focus on those individuals that repeatedly visit the vicinity of fishing gear. Ringed seals, on the other hand, did not exhibit similar fidelity, but they ranged over larger areas and had several spatially distinct foraging areas. This suggests that removing ringed seals away from fishing gear may not be effective in reducing losses caused by them. Therefore, the development of fishing gear and fishing practices could provide more effective mitigation measures.

Although ringed seals move over wide areas during the open water season, especially adults are quite sedentary in the breeding season in the winter. In contrast, grey seals left their open-water home ranges during ice formation and occupied areas with little ice-cover. Therefore, although the extent of overall movement was similar in both species, their seasonal patterns of movement differed.

Seal socks help reduce fishing by-catch mortality of ringed seals

The other side of the coin in the seal-fishery conflict is the by-catch mortality of seals in fishing gear. A device to reduce seal by-catch in trap nets, a so-called seal sock, was tested. The sock enables a seal to have access to breathe on the surface while it is trapped inside a trap net. The sock proved to be an effective way of reducing ringed seal mortality in trap nets, but it did not work as well with grey seals. Reducing incidental by-catch is one method to develop sustainable fisheries, as is also required by the MSC certificate granted to fisheries and fish.

Although both of the seal stocks have been increasing in recent decades, climate change, for example, can pose new threats. The breeding success of the ringed seal, in particular, is very dependent on sufficient snow and ice. Furthermore, information on the movements of seals can also be used in protecting important seal habitats.

The movements of Baltic seals were investigated with GPS satellite telemetry in cooperation with Natural Resources Institute Finland.

The findings were originally published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, Movement Ecology, and PLOS ONE.

The doctoral dissertation, entitled Spatial ecology of the grey seal and ringed seal in the Baltic Sea - seeking solutions to the coexistence of seals and fisheries, is available for download at http://epublications.uef.fi/pub/urn_isbn_978-952-61-1894-9/urn_isbn_978-952-61-1894-9.pdf

 


 

Fur Seal Pups Mysteriously Washing Up on California Shores

By Katy Steinmetz / San Francisco
Oct. 3, 2015
time.com

Malnourished Guadalupe fur seal photo Dana Angus
A malnourished Guadalupe fur seal pup is pictured at the Marine Mammal Center, a Bay Area facility that rehabilitates stranded marine animals. Photo: Dana Angus

Roughly 80 Guadalupe fur seal pup have been found stranded in 2015, eight times the normal rate

A Guadalupe fur seal pup, wasted away to nearly fur and bones, washed up on the shore’s of California’s Humboldt County in April. He was spotted and whisked to the Bay Area’s Marine Mammal Center, soon to be named Ian and become the first juvenile of his species to ever wear a satellite tag. But his odds of seeing the ocean again after doctors tried to rehabilitate him, like dozens of other fur seal pups mysteriously turning up on California shores, were grim.

The appearance of these pups, many of whom are already dead by the time they wash to shore, has led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to declare what is known as a UME—an unusual mortality event. So far in 2015, roughly 80 of them have been found stranded, a rate eight times higher than normal. Especially alarming for marine biologists is that, unlike sea lion pups that are experiencing their own bizarre strandings, the Guadalupe fur seals are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, with some 15,000 estimated to exist in the world.

“This is an alarm bell ringing,” says the Marine Mammal Center’s Jeff Boehm, whose team of doctors and intrepid volunteers have successfully rehabilitated 11 Guadalupe fur seal pups out of the 33 who have arrived at their door. (The other five of 38 who have been found alive went to Sea World for care.) When the pups arrived, they’re often starved nearly to death, some with organs and critical systems on the verge of shutting down. “Once we see them on the beach, they’re critically ill,” Boehm says, often proving their efforts to be “too little, too late.”

Like an animal emergency, the UME declaration allows NOAA to dedicate more resources to trying to figure out why this is happening. Officials and experts like Boehm have theorized that, due to weather conditions that have made the Pacific waters unusually warm, mother seals and sea lions have been forced to forage much farther than normal to find food for themselves and their young. Some pups are left for such long stretches that they appear to be risking their safety, venturing into the open ocean before they have the strength or nourishment they need to survive.

“They may be prematurely weaned or abandoned,” Boehm says, “finding themselves in water without physical reserves or behavioral maturity.” He and other experts are watching the development of an El Nino without knowing what it will mean for the marine life off California’s coast.

Though he weighed less than 40 lbs. when he arrived at the Marine Mammal Center, Ian proved to be a survivor. The team fed him “fish mash” through a tube before teaching him to eat whole fish and caretakers said he proved “feisty” throughout his stay, exhibiting the temperament of a normal Guadalupe fur seal. In a few months, Ian weighed 90 lbs. and the Center took him to Point Reyes National Seashore, where they happily ushered the seal back into the wild.

Even though the 40-year-old marine animal hospital has had a record-breaking number of “patients” this year, Boehm says the successes help keep them ready for whatever the weather brings. “Every species warrants our attention,” he says, noting that threatened species like the Guadalupe fur seals and Hawaiian monk seals they’re working to rescue at a new mammal hospital all demand significant resources.

Could they go extinct? “Not on our watch,” he says.

See photos of seals and sea lions at the Marine Mammal Center.



 

No legal barrier to fur seal cull in Coorong and Lower Lakes, federal MP Tony Pasin says

By Tom Fedorowytsch

Updated 2 Oct 2015, 7:26pm
abc.net.au

Long-nosed fur seals photo ABC News Australiahttp://www.PHOTO: Barker MP Tony Pasin said inquiries by himself and the Environment Minister Greg Hunt had revealed fur seals were not legally protected. (ABC News)

There are no legal hurdles preventing a cull of seals in South Australia's Lower Lakes and Coorong, a federal MP says.

Tens of thousands of long-nosed fur seals have taken to the lower stretches of the River Murray, causing problems for the local commercial fishing industry.

Liberal Member for Barker Tony Pasin, whose electorate includes the impacted areas, said inquiries by himself and federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt had revealed there were no legal protections for the species.

"I certainly think we need to proceed with a sustainable harvest," Mr Pasin said.

"These seals are wreaking havoc in the lakes and Coorong, they're decimating the ecology, harming the industry and impacting on the culture of the Ngarrindjeri people."

Authorities have estimated there are as many as 100,000 fur seals in South Australian waters, which are responsible for reducing the fishing catch in the Lower Lakes and Coorong by 70 per cent.

The seals have also been blamed for decimating little penguin colonies on the south coast and Kangaroo Island.

But the South Australian Government has refused to commit to a cull.

"The State Government's position is informed by the best available science, which indicates culling would be ineffective and fail to address the impacts being felt by commercial fishers," state Environment Minister Ian Hunter said.

It has thrown its weight behind a $100,000 trial of non-lethal control measures, including underwater crackers to scare the seals away.

Mr Pasin said the local community would still prefer a cull.

"I'm taking my lead from people that have lived on the lakes and Coorong their whole life," he said.

"They're sceptical about these exclusion devices and the reality is if action isn't taken immediately we won't have a Coorong fishery."

The Government recently waived net fees of $5,000 to provide temporary financial relief to Coorong anglers.

 


 

Man accused of killing elephant seal pup

Fox 5 Digital Team
September 22, 2015
Fox5sandiego.com

SAN DIEGO — A homeless man who claimed he bludgeoned an elephant seal pup to death because he thought the animal was in distress was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on a felony charge of cruelty to an endangered or protected animal.

Roy Lee Miller, 45, faces up to five years in state prison if convicted.

Witness Mark Valentine testified that he and Miller were drinking vodka near Spanish Landing last Feb. 27 when they heard the Northern elephant seal making “ungodly” sounds, worse than a baby screaming.

Valentine said he thought there was something wrong with the seal, speculating that it might have swallowed a hook. He said Miller told him that the seal “needs to be put out of its misery.”

Valentine said he walked away and later told authorities that Miller might have hit the seal with a rock. The witness said Miller cried the next day when he talked about what happened.

Kerri Danil, a research biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the seal pup — thought to be about a month old — had multiple skull fractures.

A marine mammal veterinarian testified that the seal pup — not normally found in San Diego Bay — was fine and making normal seal “calls” when she observed the animal on Feb. 27.

The veterinarian said a lay person could think that a seal was in distress if they heard the “unique” pup calls.

Harbor police Detective Robert Twardy testified that Miller approached him after the detective found the seal’s body on the beach.

“He said he was responsible for putting the seal out of its misery,” Twardy testified.

When asked why he didn’t call 911 when he came upon the seal, Miller said he didn’t know and was “distraught,” Twardy testified.

Deputy District Attorney Karra Reedy told Judge Eugenia Eyherabide that the seal was tortured and that Miller committed a “malicious and willful act.”

But Deputy Public Defender Jo E. Super disagreed, saying there was no malice.

Eyherabide ruled that enough evidence was presented for Miller to proceed to trial Nov. 10.

 


 

Struggling seal pups on the rise

September 15, 2015
radionz.co.nz

Higher than normal numbers of skinny and emaciated fur seals, or kekeno, are being found dead along the east coast of New Zealand, the Department of Conservation (DOC) says.

2 thin fur seals - RadioNZ
Photo Supplied to radio nz

DOC marine advisor Laura Boren said staff had received an increased number of fur seal call-outs over the winter, mainly about sick or dead fur seals, and have noticed increased pup mortality at breeding colonies including Kaikoura and Otago.

Ms Boren said it was highly likely this was a result of reduced productivity and prey availability, which could be related to a number of factors.

Tests will be carried out on a selection of pups to confirm the cause of death. The department is gathering information to understand the extent of the situation and will continue to monitor it.

"It's usual at this time of the year for newly weaned young fur seal pups, aged nine or ten months, to start showing up on our beaches. They're just learning to make it on their own and its normal for many to be emaciated and weak.

Group of thin fur seal pups - RadioNZ
Undernourished seal pups struggle to grow to their full size. Photo: Supplied to radio nz

"Unless a seal is being harassed by dogs or people, is entangled in marine debris, is severely injured, or is in a situation where it might pose a risk to itself or to people for example, on a road or in a backyard, the best policy is to leave them alone."

Ms Boren urged dog owners to control their pets around seals.

"These weak and helpless seals occasionally turn up in public places where they are vulnerable to dogs. The seals are small and easily picked up and shaken by a dog. Last year, several seals were killed by dogs," she said.

"A dog owner whose dog attacks a seal could face prosecution and their dog could be destroyed.''

Anyone charged under the Marine Mammals Protection Act with harassing, disturbing, injuring or killing a seal faces a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment or a maximum fine of $250,000.

 


 

MEPs toughen EU ban on the sale of seal products

PLENARY SESSION

September 8, 2015
europarl.europa.eu

Fewer seals could be hunted for their fur thanks to a stronger EU ban on the trade in seal product, approved in plenary on Tuesday (631 MEPs in favour, 31 against, 33 abstentions). The new rules will extend the ban to products resulting from hunts to protect fishing stocks, although Inuit and other indigenous communities will continue to be exempt from the ban. These changes, already agreed with EU governments, are needed to bring EU regulation in line with World Trade Organization rules.

In response to animal welfare concerns, the EU banned in 2009 the trade in seal products, such as sealskin coats, mitts, bags or seal meat. This ban entered into force in 2010. However, it allowed two exceptions, one for products resulting from indigenous hunts and the other for small-scale hunts to ensure sustainable “marine resource management”.

The ban was challenged by Canada and Norway in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In June 2014, it delivered a ruling which noted that the ban could be justified on moral grounds regarding the welfare of seals but required more clarification of the exceptions applied. To address the WTO concerns, the European Commission proposed an amendment to the current EU rules in February 2015.

What will change

Under the changes, which have already been agreed with EU governments, Inuits will be allowed to sell seal products in the EU only if their hunting methods have due regard to animal welfare, are a part of their tradition and contribute to its subsistence.

Meanwhile, an exception regarding seal products originating from hunts to protect fish stocks has been removed.

Proper information and impact assessment

At the insistence of MEPs, the Commission will be tasked with informing the public and customs officials about the new rules and the Inuit exception. They believe that this could help to counter the widespread negative portrayals and misunderstandings of seal hunts conducted by Inuits and other indigenous peoples.

Also, the Commission will have to report by the end of 2019 on the implementation of the new rules, paying particular attention to their impact on the Inuit community.

“We amended the Commission’s proposal taking into consideration in particular the right to self-determination of the Inuit and other indigenous communities,” said Cristian-Silviu Bușoi, a Romanian member of the EPP group who is responsible for steering the new rules through Parliament during the debate.

Next steps

The new rules will have to be approved by both the Parliament and the Council before they can enter into force.

 


 

Hey Seattleites, Stop Trying to "Save" Seal Pups
Every Year, Misguided Good Samaritans Snatch the Animals from West Seattle Beaches (It Usually Doesn't End So Well)

by Sydney Brownstone
August 19, 2015
The Stranger

Harbor seal pup - photo PAWS
DON’T LOOK INTO THEIR EYES: No, seriously, don’t. Federal law prohibits humans from getting closer than 100 yards to a seal (no matter how cute). PAWS

If a human stumbles across a baby seal, one of the first things that person might notice about the baby seal is its eyes. "They're just these big, dark, limpid, black eyes holding yours," West Seattle resident Brenda Peterson tells me on a recent August evening. "You're just a goner, and people go, 'Oh, my god.'"

We're at an undisclosed location near a West Seattle waterfront so Peterson, a well-published nature writer who has lived in the area for 23 years, can show me where seal pups congregate. She agrees to do this on one condition: that I keep the location secret.

A seal pup's gaze tends to have a very intense effect on people, which has a lot to do with why I'm not allowed to write about where the animals haul ashore. Every year, some humans become convinced that those wide-eyed seal pups must be saved, so they intervene. These misguided rescue attempts often kill them.

Seal pups typically show up on the shores of southern Puget Sound between July and September. It's a natural part of the pupping season, when mother seals wean their pups on beaches and weaned pups learn to hunt on their own.

During the summer, some people see young seals on beaches without their mothers and mistakenly believe that they've been abandoned. They pick them up, feed them things that make them sick, and inadvertently scare away their mothers.

That's why eight years ago, Peterson cofounded Seal Sitters, a group of local volunteers trained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that patrols Seattle beaches to find newborn seals before other humans (and dogs) get to them first. In late June, Seal Sitters found a seal pup with puncture wounds in Lincoln Park. In late July, the organization helped rescue a seal pup believed to have been plucked out of the water by boaters and dumped on a Poulsbo boat ramp.

In addition to being illegal, snatching seal pups jeopardizes this already fragile group.

Kayakers see seal - photo ROBIN LINDSEY
These kayakers are far too close to the seals. Lindsey sent along this photo as an example of what not to do. ROBIN LINDSEY

"Every single day for a harbor seal pup is life and death because they are just teetering on that brink of survival," says Robin Lindsey, another founding member of Seal Sitters. Lindsey, who usually goes out at dawn to look for harbor seal pups, once found an open can of tuna fish in a spot where a seal pup had been resting.

"All those calories that they're spending to get away from people or dogs are calories they can't afford to lose," she says. "Just that act of scaring them [into the water] can put them over the edge where they can't make it."

Seals don't have tear ducts to drain tears from their eyes, which explains their drippy, vulnerable stare. Humans can't help but ascribe meaning to it. According to Scottish folklore, certain seal species even have the ability to shape-shift into human form. It was once believed that selkie folk, as the seal-people were called, could be taken as human lovers once they ditched their transmogrifying seal skins.

These days, humans may not be having sex with seal-people, but they're definitely doing some very questionable things to seals. When NOAA special agent Michael Killary moved to the West Coast from Alaska a year ago, he started hearing stories about humans herding baby seals into dog carriers, trying to stuff fish down their throats, feeding them baby formula, or even trying to make a seal pup sip Gatorade.

"It's always been a problem as far as I know from this area," Killary tells me over the phone. "You get people who see the seal pups on the beach and for whatever reason they feel the overwhelming urge to pick them up. I guess they feel like they're being abandoned, but that's not the case."

Seal mothers nurse their pups for several weeks after giving birth. Eventually, the mothers will leave their pups on the beach so they can hunt. After being weaned, the pups learn how to forage on their own. They lose precious fat while this happens, and lying on the beach conserves energy.

Often, human intervention will scare a mother seal away or force a pup to waste energy trying to escape, sometimes leading to its death. Harbor seals aren't considered endangered, Killary explains, so there aren't many resources to rehabilitate them when people pick them up and drop them off at a vet's office. "More than likely, the animal will just die, or it'll be put to sleep," Killary says. And it's still illegal for humans to harass seal pups under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. People are only allowed to observe seals from at least 100 yards away.

Human instinct commonly overrides the 100-yard rule. A year after Peterson and Lindsey started Seal Sitters, a Whidbey Island police officer who pulled over a woman for a traffic infraction discovered a seal pup in the backseat. The 5-day-old seal's joyride wasn't even its first bewildering encounter with humans. The Whidbey News-Times reported that earlier in the week, a couple had picked up the same newborn seal and kept it in a dinghy overnight. Wildlife rehabilitators named the pup Concho, but Concho survived only a month.

Jennifer Olson, the marine mammal stranding network coordinator at the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, tells me she's heard of people trying to feed seal pups potato chips, and recently she even received a report of people pouring water over a seal pup they believed to be beached like a whale.

Dr. John Huckabee, a wildlife veterinarian, is not having a relaxing summer. His organization, the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) wildlife facility in Lynnwood, is one of two facilities in Washington State certified to handle seal rehabilitation, and when I meet him, he's navigating a particularly busy schedule. People are bringing in baby birds and other wildlife at a greater frequency and earlier than they normally do, and it makes Huckabee wonder if that has something to do with migratory signals thrown off by the weird, warm weather. If the trend continues, PAWS will surpass all of its 2014 intakes by August of this year.

PAWS has treated a number of seal pups that have been tampered with by humans over the years. Today, they've also got number 2,800, the newborn seal pup left on the Poulsbo boat ramp, and number 2,200, the seal pup that Seal Sitters rescued from Lincoln Park in late June.

Years ago, Huckabee also treated a pup that someone scooped up and kept in a hotel bathtub for a couple of days. It came in dehydrated to the point of emaciation. "The seal pup was confiscated," Huckabee said.

Huckabee thinks that particular incident had more to do with curiosity than an attempt at being a Good Samaritan, but "the assumption that a pup is abandoned... if we can eliminate that perspective, that would be a good thing," he says. These acts tend to be "more kidnapping" than rescue, he adds.

Kidnapping is bad enough, but Peterson, the Seal Sitters cofounder, is worried about local seal pups for another reason, too. Many more weaned, emaciated pups have been showing up in West Seattle in recent years, which makes her wonder if something could be off in the Puget Sound ecosystem. Seals are an indicator species, which means they're often the first animals to show outward signs of distress when their environment is compromised.

But if seals aren't endangered, why does Seal Sitters spend so much energy protecting them? Peterson says she gets that question a lot. "My response to that is, why do we wait until an animal is endangered to have a healthy relationship with our ecosystem? That's like saying, 'You know, I'm not going to take care of my body until I get cancer.'"

If you see a seal pup on a Seattle beach, leave it alone and call Seal Sitters at 905-SEAL. If you see someone harassing a seal, call NOAA: 1-800-853-1964

 


 

Coorong elder vows to kill all fur seals to protect pelicans

By Michael Owen
AUGUST 18, 2015 12:00AM
THE AUSTRALIAN

 

Coorong man killing fur seals - photo Kelly Barnes Source: News Corp Australia
Ngarrindjeri elder Darrell Sumner faces two years’ jail for killing long-nosed fur seals in the Coorong to protect totems. Picture: Kelly Barnes Source: News Corp Australia

An ['Australian white man who claims to be an' - HSO] Aboriginal elder culling fur seals amid government inaction over their invasion of the Coorong and Murray lakes faces fines of up to $100,000 or two years’ jail as part of an Environment Department investigation.

Ngarrindjeri man Darrell Sumner has publicly admitted killing at least four seals by clubbing them to death or chopping them with his boat propeller.

The resident of Meningie, a town at the northern end of the Coorong on the shores of Lake Albert, said he had a cultural responsibility to protect pelicans, swans, terns and musk ducks, significant indigenous totems, from being “slaughtered” by long-nosed fur seals.

More than 200 long-nosed fur seals are wreaking havoc on native animals and fish stocks, leading to calls from the opposition, fishing industry and traditional landowners for a humane shooting cull. The fur seal population in South Australia has increased to more than 100,000.

A spokesman for South Australian Environment Minister Ian Hunter, who has ruled out a cull, confirmed Mr Sumner was being investigated for killing a protected species.

“Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources compliance officers have been in contact with Mr Sumner as part of their investigation,” he said. “It would be inappropriate to discuss further specifics of this case.”

A defiant and frustrated Mr Sumner said he was prepared to go to jail and did not plan to stop his cull until the government took appropriate action.

“I’ll be culling them, so they can jail me … or I’ll just stay out all night and kill more,” Mr Sumner said. “It makes me sick. We don’t go killing animals just for the fun. But I have been out doing that because as a Ngarrindjeri elder I have responsibil­ities to our totems … I’ve taken this action to get things rolling. They either arrest me over it or we cull all the seals.”

He described the Coorong as “dead space with no birdlife” since the seals had come to a region “they’ve never belonged in”.

He was seeking legal advice after having been interviewed by environment compliance officers.

“This is not just about killing seals, this is about the protection of Aboriginal culture and totems,” he said. “I am 69 and I don’t care about this white man’s law to protect seals — they are a pest, the wild dogs of the water.”

Liberal agriculture parliamentary secretary Adrian Pederick, who has stalled legislation in parliament to sanction a cull, said authorities should caution Mr Sumner rather than prosecute.

“I can understand the frustration of the whole community, and there are others taking simil­ar action because the government has failed to act,” Mr Pederick said.

Gary Hera-Singh, president of the Southern Fishermen’s Association, has said the seals were chewing through more than 500 tonnes of fish a day across South Australia, with the industry set to go bust within 18 months unless the government allowed a cull.

The Weatherill government plans to spend $100,000 on a trial of non-lethal deterrents for seals.

 


 

Clever Seal Hops On Boat To Escape Killer Whales In B.C.'s Desolation Sound

By Rhianna Schmunkhe
August 17, 2015
Huffington Post B.C.

Harbor seal on boat - photo Josh McInnes
Harbor seal on boat - photo Josh McInnes

Not today, whales, not today.

On Friday, a harbour seal escaped a hungry group of orcas by simply outsmarting them — and it's a rather impressive move.

Josh McInnes, a transient orca researcher, was studying two pods near Campbell River when the whales started circling something.

"We thought they may have killed a seal and were feeding on it," McInnes told The Huffington Post B.C. in an email.

Eventually, the orcas swam away, and the researchers realized what had been causing all the commotion.

Harbor seal on boat - photo Josh McInnes
Harbor seal on boat - photo Josh McInnes

The "very lucky" seal was perched neatly on a Zodiac, sitting out of the whales' reach.

Michelle Wigmore was sightseeing with her husband when they noticed the unexpected guest in their dinghy, according to Global News.

“It was just breathtaking and heartbreaking in a way because you don’t want to get in the middle of a hunt and affect wildlife and affect nature," Wigmore told the outlet. "But at the same time, you feel sort of sorry for the seal, but you know that this is how these transient orcas survive.”

McInnes said sea lions and seals often jump into boats to avoid killer whales, especially during the summer when pups are born.

Safe to say, we give this move the seal of approval.

 


 

Seagulls kill seals by eating their EYES: Sea birds have learned to blind pups before leaving them to die

Kelp gull pecks Cape fur seal  photo Ian White - Flickr
Kelp gulls have been seen to attack fur seal pups along the Namibian coastline to peck out their eyeballs, leaving the youngsters blind and vulnerable. They quickly starve, allowing the gulls to return and feast on their remains, like in the images shown above of a kelp gull eating a Cape fur seal pup. Photo: Ian White/Flickr
Kelp gulls have been seen to peck and eat the eyes of Cape fur seal pups
Blinded the pups are unable to find their mothers to get milk and starve
This allows the gulls to return to dead pups' bodies for an easy meal
Biologists say the 'cruel' seeming behaviour appears to be new to science

By RICHARD GRAY FOR MAILONLINE
August 17, 2015
Daily Mail dailymail.co.uk

 

They are already demonised as the scourge of the seaside for stealing food and harassing unwitting tourists, but some seagulls have developed a far more vicious streak.

Researchers have reported witnessing gulls pecking out the eyeballs of newborn seal pups and then leaving them to die.
Unable to see, the pups cannot find their way to their mothers for food and eventually starve to death, allowing the kelp gulls to return for a free meal.

Scientists say the birds appear to have learned the behaviour relatively recently as a way of killing the sea pups, which are larger than the kelp gulls.

In some cases other gulls join in the attack and begin to eat the soft seal pup's underbelly and genitals once it has been blinded.

KELP GULL VERSES FUR SEAL

The kelp gull is a lightweight but veracious predator.
With a wingspan of between 50 to 56 in and can weigh between 1.19 to 3.06 lb each.
They are onmivores and often gather around human landfill sites in huge numbers.
However, they have also been seen to target surfacing southern right whales, using their powerful beak to peck down into the skin and blubber.
This can leave the whales with large sores, some of which have been seen to be up to half a metre in diametre.
They have also been seen to eat shell fish by flying up several metres and dropping them onto the rocks below.
Cape fur seals can grow up to 7.5 feet long and weigh up to 440–660 lb as adult males.
As pups, however, they weigh 9.9-27lbs and measure between 24-31 inches in length at birth.
They are totally reliant upon their mother's milk after birth until around six months old.
Mothers regularly have to leave their pups unattended while foraging for food in the ocean, which leaves the youngsters to predators like jackals, lions and hyenas.

Dr Austin Gallagher, a biologist at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, told National Geographic: 'It is not a pleasant behaviour to observe, as the seals completely freak out and make a lot of noise.

'A blind sea cannot forage, cannot find mom and will get attacked by other gulls.
'It' a cruel way to go.'

The gulls have been spotted attacking cape fur seals on the coast of Dorob National Park in Namibia.

Numbers of seals here are thought to have risen dramatically in recent years and now more than 80,000 arrive on the coastline to mate and raise their young.

The researchers say it appears the kelp gulls that patrol the skies above the coast have learned to take advantage of what is an abundant food source.

They say they have witnessed gulls attacked the eyes of seal pups on more than 200 occasions in the past 15 years and are successful around 50 per cent of the time.

Reporting the new behaviour in the African Journal of Marine Science, Dr Gallagher and his colleagues said: 'The kelp gull Larus dominicanus is an abundant and highly successful avian predator and scavenger that breeds along the coastline in the Southern Hemisphere.

'Kelp gulls seem to be particularly responsive to pulses of resources in its environment.
'For example, kelp gulls regularly forage on the remains of Cape fur seals after white shark predation or consume flesh from the open wounds on injured fur seals that have survived shark attacks.'

The gulls are also known to target the backs of southern right whales when they come to the surface.

The eyes of seal pups seem to present a similar soft target in vulnerable animals.
Michelle Jewell, a behavioural ecologist at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research who was not involved in the study, told National Geographic: 'Once one gull figures out a fast food meal like Cape fur seal eyeballs, other gulls observe and quickly learn the new feeding behaviour.'

 

Cape fur seal mom and pup photo Wlm van den Heever - Tetra Images - Corbis
Cape fur seal pups are almost entirely dependent upon their mothers, like in the image above, and when blind they are unable to find her to get the milk they need to survive and so quickly die Photo: Wlm van den Heever/Tetra Images/Corbis

Jackal attacks Cape fur seal pup - photo - Anup Shah/Corbis
Cape fur seal pups also face other dangers, including being preyed upon by jackals, like in the image above, lions and hyenas that venture onto the beaches looking for an easy meal. Photo: Anup Shah / Corbis

Dorob National Park -  Mail Online
The researchers spotted the kelp gulls attacked Cape fur seal pups on the coast of Dorbo National Park, in Namibia, as shown on the map above. Map: Mail Online

Kelp gull attacks whale - photo - Ralph Lee Hopkins - Natl Geo Creative - Corbis
Kelp gulls are also known to feed on the backs of southern right whales, like in the image above, where they use their beaks to break through the skin and blubber, opening up large sores on the sea mammals' backs. Photo: Ralph Lee Hopkins/National Geographic Creative/Corbis

 


 

Antarctic fur seals have unique 'scent profile' to recognise their pups

August 12, 2015
phys.org

Researchers studying Antarctic fur seals have discovered their scent has a unique 'profile' which enables them to recognise their offspring and family members. Until now researchers thought voice recognition was mostly important for finding their young, but now it is proven that scent also plays a crucial part. The results are published this week (Monday 10 August) in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Antarctic fur seal mother and pup photo  - David Vaynor Evans, British Antarctic Survey
An Antarctic fur seal mother smells its pup. Credit: David Vaynor Evans, British Antarctic Survey

The sense of smell and an animal's scent is an important means of communication in the animal kingdom. This applies not only to social interactions, but also to territorial behaviour, recognising kin and when selecting a mate. However, understanding communication by smell is very challenging because of the mixture of chemicals on an animal's skin - it may be affected by hormones, the microbial flora, body condition and health, and environmental factors. A team of scientists from the Bielefeld University and British Antarctic Survey sampled the skin and fur from dozens of mothers and their pups from two different colonies on the breeding beaches at Bird Island Research Station near the sub Antarctic Island of South Georgia. They found the scent of mothers and pups had similar characteristics.

Martin Stoffel, lead author from Bielefeld University says: "Our results are surprising for a marine animal that spends more than 80% of its time at sea. They show that fur seal pups smell similar to their mothers as many of the chemicals on their skin are shared and genetically encoded. Also, individuals with high genetic variability have a more complex scent profile, meaning they have a greater number of substances on their skin. This could be significant when it comes to choosing a mate, because genetic diversity is often positively correlated with survival."

Antarctic fur seals give birth to a single pup and nurse it for approximately four months until weaning. During this time, mothers undertake five- to ten-day foraging trips at sea to find food and produce milk that they deliver to their pups over a one- to three-day period ashore. When they return from the sea, they need to find their pups.

Co-author Dr Jaume Forcada from British Antarctic Survey says: "In heavily populated breeding beaches such as those of Bird Island, where thousands of pups are born, fur seal mothers need to find their hungry offspring when they return from long foraging trips at sea. This study has shown us that scent is critical to this process, especially for bonding."

Co-author Dr Barbara Caspers specialises in communication through smell at Bielefeld University. She says: "The idea that scent signal relatedness has been around for a long time, but this has not been chemically proven until now. In evolutionary history, the sense of smell is the first sense. There is reason to believe the mechanisms are similar across the animal kingdom and not just fur seals."

According to co-author Dr Joe Hoffman, scent is multidimensional. He says: "The scent profiles are very complicated – only a fraction of the substances encode relatedness. Nevertheless, the fact that relatedness is genetically encoded could mean that related fur seals are able to recognise each other through odour and this in turn could help prevent inbreeding and preserve genetic diversity."

The study provides more information about the behaviour of Antarctic fur seals as part of a 30-year study monitoring their populations on the island of South Georgia. Fur seal populations on the island of South Georgia were decimated by hunting around 100 years ago. Scientists are monitoring their populations to observe the impacts of fishing and climate change.

Full article: "Chemical fingerprints encode mother–offspring similarity, colony membership, relatedness, and genetic quality in fur seals." PNAS 2015 ; published ahead of print August 10, 2015, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1506076112

 


 

'Rats of the sea': South Australian MP calls for fur seal cull

New Zealand fur seals Photo - Lyndall Hawke - AA
The number of New Zealand fur seals around the Murray Lakes and the Coorong are estimated to be more than 100,000. Photograph: Lyndall Hawke/AAP

Liberal MP Adrian Pederick proposes sustainable harvesting of New Zealand fur seals, accusing them of ‘causing major havoc’ to the SA fishing industry

Australian Associated Press
Thursday 2 July 2015 03.55 EDT

A South Australian MP wants a fur seal cull along parts of the SA coast because they are causing problems for other wildlife and the fishing industry.

Liberal MP Adrian Pederick moved a motion in state parliament on Thursday calling for a management plan and a sustainable harvesting of New Zealand fur seals.

Seal numbers around the Murray Lakes and the Coorong, south of Adelaide, have been increasing in recent years and are now estimated at more than 100,000.

“They’re just invading the Coorong, lakes Albert and Alexandrina and they’ve even gone north of Murray Bridge,” Pederick said.

“They’re also causing major havoc to the fishing industry down here because they’re just like rats of the sea, they attack nets and bite fish in half.”

Pederick said the seals were responsible for slaughtering penguin populations on Kangaroo and Granite islands and also caused problems for other birdlife including pelicans.

Greens MP Tammy Franks opposed any cull, describing it as a knee-jerk reaction to a complex problem.

She said her party was equally concerned for the fishing industry and other wildlife but that other options should be considered including acoustic harassment devices.

“We need to be talking with the experts and the community and exhausting other options before we resort to practices like culling,” she said.

Pederick said he understood the idea of a shooting program was a sensitive issue and said he remained open to other suggestions that would solve the problem.

 


 

Taylors seal flipper truck - CBC photo
Taylor's sells seal flippers each spring on the St. John's waterfront. (CBC)

Seal flippers sell out amid tight supply

CBC News
May 05, 2015

A company that has made tradition of selling seal flippers by the St. John's waterfront wrapped up this year's activity in no time at all.

"Sales were really good [but] It was too short," said Heidi Reid, who directs sales for Taylor's Fish, Fruit and Vegetable Market.

"We were extremely busy. We only got a total of four full days selling by the waterfront."

The seal hunt was largely a bust this year, with many fishermen staying ashore over depressed international markets.

Heidi Reid - seal flipper seller - CBC photo
Heidi Reid says Taylor's this year sold all of its limited supply of seal carcasses. (CBC)

About 30,000 seals were expected to be killed in this year's hunt off Newfoundland. The total allowable catch for eastern Canada is set at 400,000.

While fishermen were not keen on what they were being offered, Reid said the price of flippers actually went up because of the limited supply.

Not only that, but supplies did not last very long.

"When something is not available, it gets more expensive for us to buy and then to resell it," she told CBC's Fisheries Broadcast.

"We sell out every day. If we would get a supply, before the day's out, it's gone. There's no carrying seal from day to day."

Reid is keeping a wait list for flipper orders, but doubts she will be able to take any other shipments this spring.

"We're hoping, but the chances are very slim," she said.

 


 

FFAW and WWF sign agreement to ensure sustainable future cod fishery

CBC News
Apr 28, 2015

FFAW Keith Sullivan WWF David Miller - CBC
FFAW President Keith Sullivan and WWF-Canada President David Miller shake hands during the official launch of the Fisheries Improvement Project on Tuesday. (CBC)

An agreement signed Tuesday by Newfoundland and Labrador's largest fisheries workers union and the World Wildlife Fund of Canada is expected to breathe new life into Newfoundland and Labrador's moribund northern cod fishery.

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada jointly signed off on the Fisheries Improvement Project at a meeting at FFAW headquarters in St. John's.

"We're no longer going to be defined by July 2, 1992," said FFAW President Keith Sullivan. "Today is about a focus on the future."

The goal of the project is to get a viable commercial cod fishery once again operating in the zone known by those in the industry as 2J3KL, which stretches from the Labrador coast to the Grand Banks off eastern Newfoundland. There's been a moratorium on large-scale commercial fishing for northern cod since the stock collapsed in 1992.

Sullivan said with the WWF endorsing the plan, the FFAW and other groups can once again move forward with a commercial cod fishery, and be confident that it will be sustainable.

"We are pleased to work with WWF-Canada and other partners who recognize harvesters' commitment to ensure we build a sustainable northern cod fishery that benefits our coastal communities and the economy of our province," he said.

Expanding the fishery in a sustainable way

NAFO fish areas - DFO
The northern cod stock in NAFO area 2J3KL, which stretches from Labrador to the Grand Banks, has shown clear signs of growth in some areas since 2006. (DFO)

Sullivan insists with the inshore and offshore cod stocks on the rise, it's time to start looking at ways to move beyond a stewardship fishery and into a larger commercial fishery.

"In the 1990's, for example, we saw biomass estimates from DFO RV surveys in the 3,000 to 5,000 range," he said.

"Now we're closer to 200,000 and much of that increase has been in the last five-year range."

WWF-Canada's president and CEO David Miller stressed that any future commercial cod fishery in the province needs to be done with all stakeholders involved.

"We're delighted to be signing this agreement," he said.

"One of the lessons we've seen is that if you want to protect nature, you have deal directly with communities."

Getting other stakeholders involved

The Seafood Producers of Newfoundland and Labrador (SPONL) and the Fogo Island Co-Op are also backing the project, saying that being able to sell product under the 'sustainable' label is of considerable interest to buyers and retailers in Canada and abroad.

Miller agrees with that notion, and said the Fisheries Improvement Project will ensure not only the sustainability of the fishery itself, but also make the final product more attractive to potential consumers looking to buy ecologically friendly seafood.

Cod - photo CBC
In January 2011, WWF-Canada and Icewater Seafoods started Canada’s first Fishery Improvement Project in the 3PS cod fishery off the southern Newfoundland coast, and the project was seen as a success. (CBC)

"The Northern Cod fishery shaped Canada's history for hundreds of years, and with the right kind of management and partnerships in place, this incredible part of our ecological and cultural history can continue to shape our future," he said.

"People everywhere are asking that their fish come from sustainable sources, and this gives fisheries more incentive than ever to enter into community-focused recovery programs."

A step towards a renewed cod fishery

In January 2011, WWF-Canada and Icewater Seafoods started Canada's first Fisheries Improvement Project in the 3PS cod fishery off the coast of southern Newfoundland. The project set out a three-year action plan to see if fish could be harvested in a sustainable way — and was later touted by the WWF as a success.

On Tuesday, few details were given on when exactly a new commercial fishery will begin in the 2J3KL region, or how much cod will be allowed to be caught when it is launched.

Instead, Miller insists that right now it is more about getting the different stakeholders together to ensure that if and when a renewed commercial cod fishery does start up in Newfoundland and Labrador, it is done correctly.

"The Fisheries Improvement Project is not about next week," he said.

"This is about taking a resource that's showing significant signs of recovery at the moment, and ensuring that in the medium and long-term it's fished sustainably."

 


 

Palling: trade in seal products from Estonian islands guarantees preservation of traditions

Juhan Tere
BC, Tallinn
baltic-course.com
April 27, 2015

Grey seal - estonia -baltic-course.com

Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Kalle Palling signed a letter to the Members of the European Parliament on the protection of traditions connected with grey seals on the small islands of Estonia, reports BC Riigikogu press department.

According to the proposal on the European Union regulation, it is planned to prohibit marketing of products derived from seal hunts for non-profit purposes.

“Seal hunting has never had commercial purposes in Estonia, it is a part of the traditions of small islands, first of all on the island of Kihnu. If it is allowed to hunt grey seals, the game should be used as much as possible and it should be permitted to sell handwork products made from seals. It would contribute to the preservation of local communities and their traditions,” Palling said.

Since 15 April 2015, it is again permitted to hunt grey seals. The quota for 2015 is one percent of the specimens counted in the previous year, or 53 seals.

“The parliament of Estonia will propose to permit the communities of small islands to hunt seals in the traditional way and make handwork products from them for sale. The proposed legislation should formulate the conditions for marketing of seal products more clearly, so that the traditions of the small communities of the EU would be preserved,” wrote Palling.

The proposal for the protection of traditions connected with the grey seals was made by the European Union Affairs Committee at its 20 April sitting.

It is planned to bring the EU Regulation on trade in seal products into compliance with the recommendations and rulings of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Pursuant to the existing regulation, it is allowed to market seal products that have been derived from hunts traditionally conducted by indigenous communities. It also contains exceptions for the sale of products derived from seals hunted for the purpose of the sustainable management marine resources.

According to WTO, this exception is discriminating because it is not possible to make a clear distinction between the seal products obtained from hunts conducted for non-profit purposes and those obtained from commercial hunts.

 


 

Ocean Sciences Center NL
Aquarist Daryl Jones works with two of the three harp seals that he trains in the Seal Research Facility at the Ocean Sciences Centre of the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Logy Bay, N.L., on April 20. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ocean Sciences Center NL
Jones, known as The Seal Guy, has worked at the research centre for 17 years. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ocean Sciences Center NL
Jones says he starts many days with a “whisker greeting” as the two females, Babette and Deane, bump his hand with their noses. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ocean Sciences Center NL
Jones says seals are “smart but they’re very independent. They’re similar to cats.” (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ocean Sciences Center NL
Harp seals in the wild typically have a life span of about 35 years. Mature males and females both reach around 169 centimetres in length and weigh about 130 kilograms. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ocean Sciences Center NL
The seals draw about 20,000 visitors a year, especially during the public education program run each summer. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ocean Sciences Center NL
Jones says the seals are “like family...They are research animals, they’re public education animals but you live with them and you care for them and they’re part of your life.” (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ocean Sciences Center NL
The facility is the only place in the world where harp seals live in what scientists call an “enrichment environment.” (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

 

Working with harp seals is like herding cats at one-of-a-kind research site

SUE BAILEY
THE CANADIAN PRESS
April 25, 2015
thechronicleherald.ca

LOGY BAY, N.L. — Daryl Jones, also known as The Seal Guy, laughed when asked what surprises him most about working with harp seals at the only research site of its kind in the world.

“When the seals do what we want,” he said before hand-feeding his charges a snack of herring at the Ocean Sciences Centre in Logy Bay, N.L., just north of St. John’s.

“They’re smart but they’re very independent. They’re similar to cats.”

Jones is an aquarist who starts many days with a “whisker greeting” as the two females, Babette and Deane, bump his hand with their noses.

Tyler is the third seal living in two large outdoor seawater-fed pools with surrounding decks and a smaller tank that looks a bit like a seal bathtub.

“Tyler just looks at you and says: ‘You’ve got no fish for me?’ ”

Deane is the daughter of Babette — affectionately called Babs — and Tyler. She was named for Deane Renouf, the late marine mammal ecologist who helped found the research program in the 1980s.

Babs, believed to be about 32 years old, was captured in 1989 from the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. She is the globe’s first harp seal to give birth in captivity, Jones said.

Tyler, 25, was captured from the same place a year later as a white coat pup. Deane is now 13.

Harp seals in the wild typically have a life span of about 35 years. Mature males and females both reach around 169 centimetres in length and weigh about 130 kilograms.

“Marine mammals in captivity live much longer than their wild counterparts,” Jones said.

But it’s not known why two other seals, Jamie and Lenny, died at the facility within months of each other in October 2013 and February 2014, he said. Jamie was 19 and Lenny was 13.

“We did a necropsy and could not find any obvious cause.”

Jones clearly loves his work and the popular seals that over his 17-year career at the centre have become “like family.”

“They are research animals, they’re public education animals but you live with them and you care for them and they’re part of your life.”

It’s the only place in the world where harp seals, named for the shapes of their black markings, live in what scientists call an “enrichment environment.”

Researchers over the years have studied their behaviour, diet, physiology, even their ability to be shown one object, then find its match when shown multiple options — for a fish reward, of course.

The seals are also local celebrities. They draw about 20,000 visitors a year, especially during the public education program run each summer.

Jacky Peddle watched from the public observation deck on a recent morning as Jones worked with the seals. She has brought her two sons to see them for years.

“The staff really know their stuff and love to share their knowledge with the children.”

People always ask Jones about the seals first, he said with a smile.

“Nobody says: ‘How are you, Daryl?’ They say: ‘How are the seals, Daryl?’ I used to have a life.”

 

 


 

Nunavut, Greenland stand together on seal hunt

Postmedia Network
April 24, 2015

With Iqaluit in the international spotlight Friday thanks to a meeting of eight Arctic nations, Nunavut and Greenland seized on the opportunity to issue a joint statement in defence of the seal hunt.

Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna photo Marc DesRosiers-QMI Agency
Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna, seen here on Jan. 30, 2015, emphasized the importance of the seal hunt to coastal communities in a joint statement with Greenland. Marc DesRosiers/QMI Agency

Eight members of the Arctic Council, including Russia and the U.S., are in the territorial capital Friday to discuss their mandate to protect the Arctic environment and promote sustainable development in the North.

Greenland and Nunavut used that momentum to stand together on the controversial commercial seal hunt.

"The seal harvest is important to the economic well-being and the socio-cultural fabric of Nunavut's coastal communities, where economic opportunities are limited," Premier Peter Taptuna said. "The Inuit seal hunt has taken place for thousands of years. There is no better example of sustainable resource."

The European Union is in the process of revising its seal hunt import ban after the World Trade Organization ruled it discriminates against Canada and Norway in favour of EU member states.

Nunavut and Greenland worry the revised policy will be even stricter and leave out the exemption for Inuit products.

"The seal hunt conducted in Greenland and Nunavut is a traditional and legitimate way of life based on the principle of sustainable use of living resources," Greenland Foreign Affairs Minister Vittus Qujaukitsoq said.

"I am grateful that Greenland and Nunavut stand together on this important issue, which affects us greatly, and together state that there is absolutely no reason for a tightening or further prohibitions in the EU Seal Ban Regulation."

 


 

Sealing advocates applaud idea of federal funding, but not approach

Magdalen Islands seal hunting advocate calls funding announcement 'weird'

By Elyse Skura
CBC News
Apr 24, 2015

Worker making seal skin mitts - CBC
A worker at Always In Vogue in St. John's makes a pair of seal skin mittens to sell at the store. Gil Theriault, with the Magdalen Islands Seal Hunters Association, says products like seal skin boots 'fly off the shelves' in the Magdalen Islands, Que. (CBC)

Sealing advocates from across Canada are excited the federal government is putting money into the industry, but some say the new fund's focus on marketing is the wrong approach.

This week's federal budget included the $5.7-million fund, which rolls out over five years and is specifically targeted at ensuring Inuit can make use of an exemption to the European Union's seal ban.

"Clearly it seems like European people have decided that seal hunting was immoral," says Gil Theriault with the Magdalen Islands Seal Hunters Association.

"I'm not sure that we should insist on trying to sell them those products, especially when we know that there is market right here at home."

Theriault calls the funding announcement "weird."

In the Magdalen Islands, Que., Theriault says sealskin boots fly off the shelves and a local butcher finds it hard to keep up with the growing demand for seal meat.

If it were up to him, the fund would focus on making sure sealers can harvest enough fur for a viable industry and ensuring the quality of products is high.

"We should all definitely work together to address those real problems, real challenges and real opportunities."

Bernie Halloran
Bernie Halloran, owner of Always in Vogue, says the fact that the government is providing funding for the sealing industry is 'huge,' regardless of how it is spent. (CBC)

Funding sends 'huge' message

Bernie Halloran says, regardless of how this money will be spent, including funding for the industry in the budget sends a "huge" message.

"The country should be behind us," says Halloran, who owns Always in Vogue, a high-end seal skin fashion store in St. John's. "Canada should be behind the seal industry."

While the five-year investment seems to focus on the traditional hunt, Halloran says any support will help strengthen sealing industry overall.

"The Inuit obviously are the forefathers of the seal industry."

Both Theriault and Halloran say the Inuit concept of using the entire seal, including fur, meat and oil, is key to the future of the industry.

"We're working very closely with [the North]," says Theriault, who regularly works with sealers in both Nunavut and Newfoundland and Labrador.

And when it comes to expanding markets, both sealing advocates see Asia as potentially fertile ground.

"To me the tides are turning," says Halloran, who recently got into the seal processing business.

"I think it's a great time to be in the business."

 


 

Feds put up $5.7 million to market seal products

PAUL MCLEOD OTTAWA BUREAU
April 24, 2015
thechronicleherald.ca

The federal government is putting $5.7 million toward marketing the sealing industry, despite the hunt grinding to a halt.

The money, announced in the 2015 federal budget, will be dedicated to opening up new products and markets for the sealing industry.

Grey seal - Christian Laforce
A grey seal is shown on Hay Island in this file photo. (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE / Staff / File)

The quota for the 2015 hunt is 400,000 seals, but in 2014 there were only 60,000 seals harvested.

The last seal pelt processor, Carino Processing of South Dildo, N.L., was subsidized by the provincial government to buy pelts.

Carino announced this year it will not buy seal pelts or fat this year, leaving a $1-million provincial loan on the table.

That leaves the industry effectively dead. Anti-sealing groups no longer bother to fly to Newfoundland and Labrador to monitor the seal hunt.

But the government is hoping the $5.7-million investment over five years can open up new markets, particularly in Europe.

That may seem an odd strategy, considering the European Union has banned seal products. Canada’s appeals of the ban were dismissed by the World Trade Organization.

But the ban does not apply to the aboriginal sealing industry, and part of the money will go toward creating a system to certify seal products from aboriginal communities. There is also cash for business advice and training for aboriginal sealers.

The money will also go toward reviving the broader seal hunt.

“It’s a battle of misinformation,” Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea said in an interview this week.

“You have animal welfare groups going around with little stuffed white baby seals and saying, ‘You know, Canada still hunts these seals.’ We haven’t hunted those seals in more than 30 years.”

Other uses for the $5.7 million include promoting seal products in Canada and researching new consumer products such as Omega-3 capsules from seal oil.

“I mean, a lot of people still have leather seat covers and they still have fur coats,” said Shea.

How much money there could be in those endeavours remains to be seen. In 2004, Canada exported $12.8 million worth of seal products. By 2010, the last year for which data is available, the value was only $2.2 million. The government no longer provides information on the value of seal exports.

The price of pelts fell from over $100 a decade ago to as little as $15 in 2009.

 


 

Seal found on Fairhaven beach dies

By Sandy Quadros Bowles
sbowles@s-t.com
Apr. 14, 2015

Juvenile harp seal dies on beach - photo Timothy Cox
A juvenile harp seal that recently visited a beach on West Island has died. Photo courtesy of Timothy Cox

FAIRHAVEN — A young harp seal that recently visited West Island has died, possibly in part because people got too close to the animal, wildlife officials said.

People reportedly took photos with the seal and attempted to feed it sardines, Shellfish Warden and Assistant Harbormaster Timothy Cox said.

“It’s an unfortunate case,’’ said Janelle Schuh, stranding coordinator at Mystic Aquarium, where the animal was brought after several days on the Fairhaven beach.

The seal was found dead in its pool at the aquarium, Schuh said. X-rays showed it had eaten rocks and became “so impacted that it had a lot of internal problems.’’

The juvenile harp seal, which was estimated at 1-2 years old, likely made its way south to Fairhaven from its homeland in northern Canada, Greenland or even the southern fringes of the Arctic, Schuh said.

In its northern home, the seal might have eaten the substrate, or the substance it lives on. In the bitter cold climates, that would have included snow and ice, which safely pass through its system.

But rocks and sand of southern beaches can pose potentially fatal problems.

That behavior of eating rocks and sand may have been exacerbated by stress the animal suffered when people approached, Schuh said. “That could very well have contributed a little bit,’’ Schuh said.

Because they live in isolated areas, the harp seals are not as familiar with people as other seals, such as harbor seals, which will typically dart into the water if approached by people, Schuh said, because they know to be wary.

The seal that drew such attention was first reported March 28 at the beach near Goulart Memorial Drive. The seal left the area later in the day but returned in the next few days.
Word spread in town about the seal’s visit, which became something of a “tourist attraction,’’ said C.T. Harry, assistant stranding coordinator for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, marine mammal reserve of Yarmouth.

“It even made it to Facebook,’’ Cox said.

Cox contacted the Marine Mammal Rescue and Research team in Yarmouth, which is affiliated with the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

After observing the animal for some time at a safe distance, and putting up signs warning people to stay away from the seal, wildlife experts decided the seal’s condition was declining. The seal was then transported to Mystic Aquarium.

Wildlife experts stressed that federal law requires people to remain at least 150 feet away from seals, dolphins and porpoises.

Schuh said that people who approached the animal on West Island likely had good intentions.

Seals on beaches in this area are a relatively rare sighting, Schuh said, and tend to trigger an “awww factor. People want to get closer to view the animals.’’

But that can cause harm to both humans, because seals can bite, and to the seals themselves. People need to remember, Schuh said, that they may resemble stuffed animals “but they are wild animals.’’

 


 

Gail Shea says Paul McCartney misleading public on seal hunt

The Canadian Press
April 14, 2015

Fisheries Minister Gail Shea speaks out Tuesday against "misleading attacks on the hunt from radical animal rights activists"

Paul McCartney and Heather Mills - Photo Canadian Press - Tom Hanson
FILE PHOTO: Paul McCartney and his then wife Heather pose with a seal pup on the ice floes off Iles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St.Lawrence, Thursday March 2, 2006, as part of a high-profile protest against Canada's annual seal hunt. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tom Hanson

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Former Beatles frontman Paul McCartney is calling again for an end to Canada's East Coast commercial seal hunt, roiling supporters who say it's a humane source of cash for struggling outports.

McCartney appeals for a stop to what he calls a “senseless slaughter” in a statement released Tuesday by Humane Society International. The group plans to document the hunt on film as it has for years.

“Their videos of the bloody seal slaughter provide the only vital evidence to demonstrate year after year that these seals are dying a horrible death for their fur,” McCartney said.

Anti-sealing campaigns have helped inspire bans on seal product imports in the European Union, the United States, Mexico and other countries.

The hunt opened Sunday on the Front off northeastern Newfoundland and southern Labrador, as well as in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The federal government has defended the commercial seal hunt as humane and sustainable.

“We continue to tell the truth about sealing, and the effects of seal populations on our marine ecosystems, to combat misleading attacks on the hunt from radical animal rights activists,” Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said Tuesday in a statement.

“We've challenged the EU's unfair ban on Canadian seal products, and are working with industry and our international partners to develop new products and open new markets,” she said.

Shea was not available for an interview.

The hunt has dwindled in recent years with fewer than 55,000 harp seals landed last year compared to a federal quota of about 400,000. Hunters were urged to ensure they have a buyer before heading out.

Eldred Woodford, president of the Canadian Sealers Association, said he won't be going to the ice for the first time in 20 years. That's because just one buyer so far has indicated demand for 30,000 harp seal pelts, he said from Twillingate, about six hours north of St. John's.

“It's a very limited hunt this year.”

The federal government set the allowable catch at 400,000 harp seals, 60,000 grey seals and 8,000 hooded seals.

Woodford stressed that at about $35 each for the highest quality pelts last year, sealing provided a crucial boost.

“It's very important to smaller rural communities, coastal communities, which need every little bit of income they can get.”

The hunt is also increasingly needed as a check on growing seal populations that feast on fragile fish stocks, Woodford said.

Jeffrey Hutchings, a biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said in a recent interview that harp seal numbers have soared in the last 20 years.

“There is an imbalance, if you will, between predator and prey and it would not be surprising if the seals were having some impact on the recovery of cod. But the data really are not very clear in that regard.”

McCartney made international headlines in 2006 when he staged a photo-op on the ice floes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, beseeching Canada to halt the centuries-old hunt.

Terry Audla, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami representing about 55,000 Canadian Inuit, said in a statement that McCartney should stick to what he knows.

“He is perpetuating myths, disregarding science and traditions, and turning a blind eye to the needs of working people to earn a living and feed their families.”

 


 

Carino not buying seals this year
CEO calls decision ‘short term pain for long term gain'; says market access key for future

By Jamie Baker
CBC News
Apr 14, 2015

Dion Dakins Carino CEO Photo CBC
Dion Dakins is CEO with Carino Processing Ltd., a seal processing company located in South Dildo, Trinity Bay. (CBC)

Carino Processing will not be buying seal pelts or fat this year, but company CEO Dion Dakins says the decision is geared to improve the industry's and the company's viability in the years ahead.

Dakins said the company has inventory from previous hunts on hand.

However, he said they will be purchasing a limited amount of seal meat from harvesters who are participating.

As a result of the decision, Dakins said Carino has also decided not to access any of the $1 million loan announced last week by the provincial government.

"At this point we just want to focus our efforts on the sale of our existing inventory," Dakins told CBC's Fisheries Broadcast.

"It just falls into the basic concept of fiscal responsibility and the financial responsibility of our company to remain strong and be a significant player next year."

Not wanting to be irresponsible

Dakins said the key to a viable operation for Carino and any operator in the business is to match supply and demand. That being the case, he said the company doesn't need the raw material at this particular point in time.

"Had we continued to just stockpile goods and not appropriately market and plan the flow of goods out the back end, that would be irresponsible. We're here, we've got lots of pelts, we've got lots of oil, we're going to procure the meat we require, and we'll be here stronger and better next year," Dakins said.

"It wasn't an easy decision, it wasn't one we take lightly, we know we have a responsibility to keep our harvesters viable. But it is short term pain for long term gain, that's how we view it."

Dakins said the hours for Carino processing workers will be affected due to the lack of raw material processing, but he the impact will be lessened by the fact the company's dressing and dyeing operations will be running as per usual.

International markets key

The key going forward, he said, will be accessing international markets for seal products and demonstrating globally that the harvest is not only viable and sustainable, but also a necessary fisheries eco-management tool.

"I think that we're challenged with an appropriate model that's going to be received internationally to allow us to trade our products into a number of markets," he said.

"Without a viable seal hunt, what do we do in terms of managing this population? It's clear we can't afford expensive culls, and Canadians don't prescribe to wasting a resource; they prefer to see it harvested and utilized under the basic principles of sustainable use to improve our economy.

"If that is not realized sooner rather than later we will lose the capacity to go and hunt to a high animal welfare standard, and trade the products and be a contributor to our local economies."

New players welcomed

Dakins said the idea Carino doesn't appreciate having another seal buyer in the fold is incorrect. On the contrary, he argues the emergence of new players means there must be something going right in the industry.

"Carino has spent enormous effort in developing international markets over the past 100-plus years, so it's nice to see new entrants because there must be something we've been doing that is encouraging and showing people there is a brighter future."

"There is more than enough resource to sustain more than one player in this industry. In 2008 there were five businesses, dressing facilities, that were operating 52 weeks a year on seal products. If one experiences a benefit then we'll all experience a benefit in this very difficult sector that has been challenged by misinformation for so long."

Dakins argues that misinformation continues to flow largely from anti-sealing lobbies. He argues the continued assertions by those groups that the harvest is unsustainable, inhumane and provides products that nobody wants is factually incorrect.

"They're part of the business, they make money off the concept that we are cruel, that we are barbaric and that we are doing something incorrect," Dakins said.

"In their case they just want to completely stop the whole thing. It's all hocus-pocus.

"This is a viable industry, self-sustaining and provides good products to customers."

 


 

New player in this year's seal hunt promising to shake things up
Bernie Halloran feels struggling industry about to 'bust wide open'

By Terry Roberts,
CBC News Posted:
Apr 13, 2015

Bernie Halloran - Photo CBC
Bernie Halloran, owner of Always in Vogue, is stepping with both feet into this year's annual seal hunt as the man at the helm of a new company called PhocaLux International Inc. (CBC)

There's a new player in the seal processing sector in Newfoundland and Labrador this spring, and it is promising to shake things up for an industry that's already facing a great deal of challenges and uncertainty.

The company name — PhocaLux International Inc. — may not be familiar to many, but Bernie Halloran, the man at the helm, is no stranger to the sealing industry.

Halloran is the owner/operator of Always in Vogue, a business that specializes in high end outerwear, including sealskin products, with locations in downtown St. John's and in Moncton, N.B.

The company is also involved with a factory in China, where a variety of sealskin products are being manufactured for the sizeable Chinese market.

Halloran has formed a partnership with, among others, the Northeast Coast Sealers Co-op, to purchase up to 30,000 seals this spring and process them at a facility in Fleur de Lys, a tiny community on Newfoundland's Baie Verte Peninsula.

The company expects to pay between $30 and $35 per animal.

PhocaLux purchased the Fluer de Lys plant from the Co-op, and expects to hire up to 30 year-round employees, said Halloran.

​"We're going after full utilization of the seal; not just fashion," he said, referring to the "huge value" associated with seal oil, which is rich in three kinds of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Undertaking is a gamble

Sealer throws harp seal pelts - Canadian Press
The 2015 seal hunt got underway Sunday, though once again this year, it's not expected that the quota of 400,000 animals will be harvested. (The Canadian Press)

As in past years, the quota for this year''s harp seal hunt is 400,000 animals, though no one is expecting the full quota to be taken.

The season opened on Sunday, and Halloran expects the Fleur de Lys plant will be in operation this week.

The company is going head-to-head with Carino Processing Ltd. in South Dildo, Trinity Bay, giving harvesters another option in the marketplace.

Both companies have received $1 million loans from the provincial government in order to purchase seals from harvesters this spring.

These loans are not unusual, but this is the first time two companies have qualified.

"Carino is not delighted we're getting into the game," Halloran told CBC News Monday. "They are still sitting on some inventory (of seal pelts)."

Halloran admitted it's a gamble, especially in light of the efforts of anti-sealing groups who have been trying to shut down the hunt.

Many countries, including the European Union, have closed their borders to seal products, but Halloran and others have their sights set firmly on the Chinese market.

Always in Vogue expects to open a retail store in China this year, he noted.

"It's probably not a really good time to get into this industry, but everybody on our team feels the same way that I do, that it's about to bust wide open," said Halloran.

A loss for Port Union

PhocaLux had originally planned to process seals at a seafood processing plant in Port Union, near Bonavista, that was damaged during a 2010 hurricane.

However, the costs to prepare the plant for operation were too high, said Halloran.

He described the Fleur de Lys plant as a "turnkey operation," with plenty of skilled workers in the area.

Halloran said his affiliates in China are designing and manufacturing many new products, and once these new lines are introduced to the Asian marketplace, he expects a much bigger demand for seals.

"I've been telling sealers to work with us to build a market before getting the prices up," he said. "Give us a chance in the new markets that we're looking at to put those products out there."

Meanwhile, Dion Dakins of Carino Processing was not available for comment Monday.


 

Nunavut to pay hunters more for sealskins, furs
Subsidy will help support hunters, boost food security in territory: GN

Iqaluit hunter skins and butchers a seal
An Iqaluit hunter skins and butchers a seal at the community's Celebration of the Seal event in 2013. (FILE PHOTO)

NUNATSIAQ NEWS

March 20, 2015
nunatsiaqonline.ca

The Government of Nunavut announced March 16 that it has increased the price it pays Nunavut hunters and trappers for cleaned and dried seal skins, and that it will pay the cost of auction commissions for other types of fur.

By April 1, Nunavut’s fur pricing program will pay 25 per cent more for sealskins harvested by Nunavut land claim beneficiaries, House Leader Paul Quassa told the legislative assembly March 16, on behalf of Environment Minister Johnny Mike.

The GN also plans to start covering the cost of auction house commissions on all other furs sold through that program, Quassa said.

“In a time when much negative publicity surrounds the Canadian seal hunt, we are taking action to ensure the continuation of this vital and sustainable part of Nunavut’s traditional economy,” Quassa said.

“We hope that this pricing increase will encourage seal hunters in particular to sell their sealskins through our program, which in turn will help us better meet the local market demand for dressed seal skins here in Nunavut and begin rebuilding markets abroad.”

The fur pricing program predates Nunavut, established to help revitalizes the Inuit sealing industry after market collapses in the early 1980s.

Under the current program, the GN has paid a $13 bonus on every pelt paid at auction; the GN also provides free shipping when hunters send their fur to Fur Auction Inc. in North Bay, Ont.

But last winter, Arviat South MLA Joe Savikataaq accused the GN of playing favourites with only one fur-buying auction house.

That’s because Savikataaq estimates that about 90 per cent of the fur value from the Kivalliq and Arviat is shipped to fur buyers that the GN doesn’t support through their program.

Savikataaq also argued for an increase in the government subsidy on pelts, given the fee paid out to hunters hasn’t changed since Nunavut was part of the Northwest Territories.

In the meantime, the MLA argues the price of hunting supplies — gas, snowmobiles, rifles and traps — have risen.

Savikataaq’s concerns appear to have been heard.

“This decision clearly demonstrates the government of Nunavut’s recognition of the importance of hunting and trapping to Inuit culture and to the health and socio-economic well-being of Nunavummiut,” Quassa told the legislature earlier this week.

“The sale of sealskins and other furs is an important source of income for our hunters and trappers, and helps to ensure continued access to a bountiful renewable resource as well as contributing to food security in our communities.”

 


 

Seal hunter fined $1,000

Seals gather on the ice off the Port Saunders
Seals gather on the ice off the Port Saunders. — Transcontinental Media file photo

Published on February 20, 2015
The Telegram

Hank Clarke of Cottrell’s Cove was recently convicted for fishing seals with full metal jacket ammunition.

A news release from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans today said Clark was convicted in Grand Falls-Windsor provincial court on Jan. 6 and fined $1,000 to be paid within six months. The offence is a violation under the Marine Mammal Regulations.

DFO said the federal government strengthened the Marine Mammal Regulations in 2009 to formalize humane harvesting practices that are already well-established in the Canadian sealing industry. It also said it will continue enforcement efforts to ensure compliance of all who participate in the regulated and sustainable seal hunt.

The public can report suspicious fishing activity or violations of fish habitat by contacting the nearest Fisheries and Oceans Canada office. You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

 


 

Don Cherry responds to 'seal burger' controversy

February 8, 2015
ctvnews.ca

Don Cherry has responded to the outrage he sparked during a Coach’s Corner segment Saturday, saying he has “no problem with people who hunt seals and eat seal meat.”
The controversial TV personality touched off a social media firestorm when he called co-host Ron MacLean a "barbarian" for eating seal meat.

After a significant amount of negative reaction to his comments, Cherry posted an eight-part “explanation” of his opinion on Twitter on Sunday.

Ron MacLean - photo - Chris Young - Canadian Press
Ron MacLean (left) sits with Don Cherry as Rogers TV unveils their team for the station's NHL coverage in Toronto on Monday, March 10, 2014. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“I have friends who hunt deer and ducks and I myself have eaten venison and duck meat. Just the same as people who hunt seals and eat seal meat,” Cherry said. “I do however find it very unusual, in my world, that a person would go into a restaurant and order a seal burger for lunch.”

Cherry's original comment came in a conversation with MacLean during their weekly segment on Hockey Night in Canada. MacLean, speaking from St. John's, N.L., said he'd just had a seal burger at a hockey festival.

Cherry responded with outrage.

"Guess what I had for lunch today?" MacLean asked.

"I know, I heard – you're eating a seal. A little baby seal," Cherry replied. "What are you, a savage? A barbarian?"

MacLean said he got the burger from Mallard Cottage, a famed restaurant in St. John's.
"I had a seal burger, and the only challenge for Todd Perrin, the chef, was it was hard to know when to 'flipper,'" MacLean quipped.

Cherry didn't take the joke well. MacLean tried to segue to discussing the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Cherry threw in another comment before moving on.

"Imagine eating a seal. What kind of barbarian…" he said.

Twitter lit up with responses from across the country, though most of the outrage came from the East Coast and northern communities, where people rely on the seal hunt for food and industry.

Chef Todd Perrin, of Mallard Cottage, said controversy over seal-hunting is nothing new to Newfoundlanders.

"It's par for the course," Perrin told CTV News Channel on Sunday.

Perrin called Cherry's choice of words "unfortunate," and stressed that his restaurant does not serve meat from "baby" seals.

Perrin said eating seal is commonplace in Newfoundland and parts of Northern Canada. "It's part of our culture," he said. "It's no different than eating a deer."

He added that he's surprised by the attention he's received after Cherry's comments.

"We certainly weren't expecting this type of reaction whenever Ron mentioned it on the show," Perrin said.

Many people sounded off on Cherry's controversial remarks, including some noted politicians from Northern Canada.

"According to Don Cherry, my Inuk friends are savages because they ate seal," tweeted Matthew Coon Come, the former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. "They network should fire him for his racist remark."

Nunavut MP and federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said Cherry's comments were "hurtful and insensitive," and called for him to apologize.

 


 

Cherry calls MacLean a 'barbarian' for eating a seal in St. John's

February 8, 2015
cbncompass.ca

Don Cherry - sportnet.ca
A screenshot of Don Cherry from last night's segment of Coach's Corner. © sportnet.ca

Don Cherry of Coach’s Corner is taking a hit on social media after referring to his on air co-worker Ron MacLean as a barbarian for eating seal meat.

MacLean is in St. John’s for Hometown Hockey which is taking place this weekend and on Coach’s Corner Saturday night, he told Cherry he had tried the seal burger at Mallard Cottage in Quidi Vidi.

Cherry rhetorically asks MacLean who eats a “little baby seal” and then asks him if he is a savage and a barbarian.

The entire segment can be viewed here.

It didn’t take long for supporters of the seal hunt and seal meat to blow the whistle on Cherry’s comments.

Some of the tweets that were sent out can be read below.

Tom Hann ‏@HannAtLarge 3h3 hours ago Well Don Cherry, barbarians are we? shows you ignorance, lack of knowledge, insensitive!

@toddperrin: The only way I'll ever make Coach's Corner………

drew brown ‏@drewfoundland 9h9 hours ago remember that time we all took don cherry's opinions really seriously

Dwight Ball ‏@DwightBallMHA 10h10 hours ago @CoachsCornerCBC Don Cherry when you don't know what you're talking about you should not pretend to be an expert #barbarian

John Riche ‏@JohnRiche 10h10 hours ago St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador @CoachsCornerCBC just made a stupid remark about the seal fishery and may have lost one of his biggest fan bases in NL. You're done Grapes.

George Murphy ‏@GeorgeMurphyMHA 10h10 hours ago @toddperrin Maybe you could re-jig that seal recipe you use...Just add "Cherry"

Michelle Hall ‏@kaddle 10h10 hours ago I am so angry @Sportsnet @RonMacLeanCBC @CoachsCornerCBC Don Cherry needs to be fired for saying its barbaric to eat seal! He is ignorant!

 


 

Seal hunt bill swan song for veteran MP Greg Kerr

PAUL MCLEOD
OTTAWA BUREAU
February 6, 2015
thechronicleherald.ca

Longtime politician Greg Kerr’s final legislative contribution will be to keep seal hunt observers farther away from the hunt.

West Nova MP Greg Kerr
West Nova MP Greg Kerr

Kerr was first elected provincially in the 1970s and currently serves as the Conservative MP for West Nova. He will not reoffer in the 2015 federal election.

His last private member’s bill, C-555, is nearing final passage by the House of Commons.

It will double the size of the legal buffer that prevents observers from coming near the seal hunt. The bill amends the Marine Mammal Regulations to expand the buffer from one-half nautical mile to one nautical mile.

Only ships with observation licences can come closer than that range, and licences can only be given out by the minister of fisheries and oceans to people who “will not cause a disruption to a seal fishery.”

Kerr said the one-mile buffer was recommended to him by the Canadian Coast Guard and that larger ships could break up the ice and endanger sealers.

“It’s really about the safety of all parties involved,” he said.

Asked if his bill was designed to keep opponents of the seal hunt from being there to film the hunt, Kerr said it was.

“Absolutely — the ones who aren’t there legally, absolutely,” he said.

“It’s a legitimate industry that’s been going on for 300 years. I respect your right if you don’t like it but guess what, you have to abide by the law.”

The bill has passed through committee and was set to return to the House for debate this week. That didn’t end up happening because of a time crunch, but it is expected to be on the order paper in the near future.

With all three parties supporting the seal hunt, the measure is unlikely to be defeated.

Kerr was first elected provincially in 1978 and served as a cabinet minister in the 1980s and early 1990s. After a failed federal bid in 2006 he was elected in West Nova in 2008 and again in 2011.

He suffered a minor stroke in 2013 and missed some time before returning to Parliament

 


 

Swedish seal culls hit by new EU trading rules

February 6, 2015
thelocal.se

Grey seal - photo - Torbjörn Jakobsson - SCANPIX
Around 300 seals were culled in Sweden in 2014. Photo: Torbjörn Jakobsson/SCANPIX

The rules for selling seal products have been tightened. An exemption allowing the trade of products made from seals culled as part of wildlife management has been revoked by the EU, which could affect seal trade in Sweden.

The EU commission made the decision after pressure from the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which in November 2013 called the exemption discriminatory.

Sweden is one of six countries in the world that allows the hunting of seals, though only as part of wildlife management and with permission from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket). Around 300 seals were killed in 2014.

The EU decision does not forbid the culling of seals. But rather than selling the fur or the meat, the products must now be destroyed.

Swedish MEP Christofer Fjellner, member of the Moderate party, was among those who hit out at the new rules on Friday.

"The consequence is that you introduce legislation that says 'shoot and dig'", he said.

The new rules do not affect seal product trade amongst the Inuit people of the Arctic.

Last year the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) ruled that up to 400 seals could be culled along the country's coast in a bid to protect depleting stocks of fish.

"The seals cause significant damage for the fishing industry every year," the agency concluded in a statement.

 


 

EU Tightens Seal Import Ban To Comply With WTO Ruling

By Alex Lawson
February 06, 2015
law360.com

Law360, New York -- The European Union on Friday unveiled reforms to its regulations banning the importation of seal products, modifying certain exemptions to the ban that the World Trade Organization ruled to be discriminatory against shippers in Canada and Norway.
In order to comply with the WTO's decision, the European Commission has proposed to give more oversight to products derived from seals hunted by indigenous communities that are not subject to the ban, while also completely eliminating the current exemption extended to products derived from non-profit marine resource management hunts.

“The proposal aims to bring the EU seal regime into compliance with the WTO rules,” the commission said in a brief statement outlining the proposed amendments. “The proposal therefore addresses only those aspects of the regulation on trade in seal products that the WTO panel and Appellate Body ruled to be incompatible with WTO law.”

While the WTO essentially held that the EU's overall ban on imports of seal skins, furs and other products was a justifiable trade barrier, it expressed concern about the potential discriminatory effects of certain loopholes in the policy.

Specifically, it said that the exception for marine resource management hunts, even though they are conducted on a small-scale, non-profit basis, was improper because these hunts could not be immediately distinguished from commercial hunts, opening the door for potentially unfair treatment of foreign producers.

With regard to the exemption for Inuit and other indigenous cultures, the WTO said that while it was sensitive to the economic and social needs of those cultures, the EU should take a closer look at the design and application of the exemption, setting the stage for Friday's proposed changes.

The EU's amended regulation essentially requires that indigenous culture seal products meet three conditions before being sent to market. Those conditions are that the hunt has been conducted traditionally and by the community; contributes to the subsistence of the community and is not done primarily for commercial reasons; and that steps are taken to reduce pain and distress for the seals.

After the WTO's Appellate Body adopted its final report on the dispute, the EU consulted with Canada and Norway on a timeframe for implementing the findings, arriving at a final implementation date of Oct. 18. While the two complainant countries launched the case to weaken or eliminate the EU's seal ban, it will actually have become stronger if the proposed amendments are approved.

The proposal garnered applause from Humane Society International, which touted the EU's decision to tighten the seal ban as a victory for the global conservation movement.

“We are delighted that the European Commission has so robustly defended animal welfare and public morality,” Executive Director Dr. Joanna Swabe said in a statement. “We strongly urge members of the European Parliament and Member States to respect the will of EU citizens and ensure that the Commission’s proposal is not watered down or weakened in any way."

--Editing by Philip Shea.

 

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