2008 Canadian commercial seal hunt

2008 Canadian commercial seal hunt

Infobox Recurring_event

date = March 28 2008 - April 2008 (November 2007 - May 2008)
location = The Gulf of St Lawrence and around Newfoundland, Quebec and Nova Scotia, Canada
first = 1723 [ [http://www.thesealfishery.com/seal_hunt_history1.php Sealing History] , thesealfishery.com] [ [http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/seal-phoque/reports-rapports/facts-faits/facts-faits_tl_e.htm The Canadian Seal Hunt - A Timeline] , Fisheries and Oceans Canada]
last = -

Canada's 2008 annual commercial seal hunt in the Gulf of St Lawrence and around Newfoundland, Quebec and Nova Scotia began on March 28. The hunting season lasts from mid-November to mid-May, but the hunt mainly occurs in March and April.cite news|title= Canada defiant over annual seal pup cull|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/03/26/easeal126.xml|publisher=The Daily Telegraph|date=2008-03-26|accessdate=2008-03-29] Canada's seal hunt is the world's largest hunt for marine mammals.

Some animal rights groups have been given observer permits and will be monitoring the hunt. They say it is cruel and that it ravages the seal population. Sealers say it is sustainable, humane, and well-managed. [ [http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/mar/29/canadas-seal-hunt-begins-amid-wary-eyes-improved/ Canada's seal hunt begins amid wary eyes, improved population] , Rocky Mountain News, March 29, 2008]

The pelts and oil are sold to buyers in Norway, Russia, and China. Gillies, Rob. [http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gBdzPkwgv69Zn-13cRiOMOvfRbMwD8VMHRQO0 "Canada's Contentious Seal Hunt Begins"] , "Associated Press", March 28, 2008.]

The total allowable catch for 2008 is set by the Canadian government to 275,000 harp seals, (the quota include 2,000 seals for personal seal hunting, and 4,950 seals for the Aboriginal seal hunt,) [ [http://www.novanewsnow.com/article-192036-Minister-Hearn-announces-2008-management-measures-for-Atlantic-seal-hunt.html Minister Hearn announces 2008 management measures for Atlantic seal hunt] , NovaNewsnow.com, March 13, 2008] 8,200 hooded seals and 12,000 grey seals. [ [http://www.foxbusiness.com/article/canadas-2008-commercial-seal-hunt-starts-today-275000-harp-seal-pups-targeted_538215_1.html Canada's 2008 Commercial Seal Hunt Starts Today - 275,000 Harp Seal Pups Are Targeted for Slaughter] , Fox Business] [ [http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/seal-phoque/faq_e.htm Frequently Asked Questions About Canada's Seal Hunt] , Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.]

2008 regulations

A new rule in the Marine Mammal Regulations for 2008, require hunters to slit the seal's main arteries under its flippers, after clubbing or shooting a seal. [ [http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,23450210-23109,00.html Annual seal hunt begins] , The Herald Sun, March 29, 2008] The European Union recommended to add this rule, in a report released in December 2007.cite news|title= Canada's Contentious Seal Hunt Begins|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/7419976|publisher=The Guardian|date=2008-03-28|accessdate=2008-03-29]

Locations and quota

The hunt in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence started on Friday March 28, 2008. A handful of sealing vessels set out before dawn from the Magdalen Islands. [ [http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jc3HpeHfZRpzl4xiMRT-Y7I8FiOQ Seal hunt protest vessel, Canadian coast guard collide at sea] , AFP, Mar 31, 2008] In the first hour of the hunt, only 15 seals were killed. The ice had made it hard for the 16 vessels, carrying roughly 100 hunters, to get near the seals. [http://www.kbsradio.ca/news/14/690652 Annual seal hunt begins off East Coast amid tension on ice floes] , kbsradio.ca] The majority of the hunters for these first days of the hunt, are from the Magdalen Islands.cite news|title= Navy divers recover bodies of three sealers|url=http://www.canada.com/topics/news/story.html?id=9e91b88a-0ea7-4339-8f5d-733368599aa3&k=17366|publisher=Canada.com|date=2008-03-29|accessdate=2008-03-29] The average seal hunt brings in about $1 million annually to the Magdalen Islands. [http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5jV2lngVj3VZ_hFzQFpp46PGms7uQ Gruff island sealers shed tears over dead and missing friends] , March 31, 2008] Per March 30, about 1000 had been killed. [http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,23459051-5012755,00.html Families angry over sealers' deaths] , The Sunday Times, March 31, 2008] On March 30, the hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, opened for the people from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. [ [http://www.trurodaily.com/index.cfm?sid=121884&sc=287 Families await explanation after sealing accident leaves four dead or missing] , Truro Daily News, March 31, 2008] Per April 18, Sealers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence had taken about half of their total allowable catch (TAC) of 51,500 seals.

The biggest part of the 2008 Canadian seal hunt takes place off Newfoundland and Labrador, known as the Front.cite news|title= Tension on ice as seal hunt begins; Hunters close in on large herd in Cabot Strait|url=http://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=964059|publisher=The Peterborough Examiner|date=2008-03-29|accessdate=2008-03-29] The hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the front officially began on April 11 and 12 respectively. Official opening times were to be released on April 7. Also the license conditions were to be available on April 7. [ [http://www.thetelegram.com/index.cfm?sid=123577&sc=79 Hunt, investigation to get underway] , The Telegram, April 5. 2008] According to Fisheries Department spokesman Larry Yetman, up to 120 larger boats were heading to the Front on April 12. [ [http://www.nugget.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=983777 Final phase of seal hunt begins; Opens under shadow of tragedy, uncertainty] , The North Bay Nugget, April 12, 2008]

Per April 18, sealers on the Front had taken 56 % of a total 194,000 seals allowed to be taken in the area. [http://www.thetelegram.com/index.cfm?sid=127567&sc=79 Seal hunt inching toward completion] , The Telegram, April 19, 2008] Per April 18, longliners on the Front had taken ca 79 % of their TAC of 112,000 seals. Small boats on the Front had taken 27 % of their TAC of 71,000 seals.

The seal hunt for Longliners on the Front, closed on April 19, 2008. [ [http://www.vocm.com/news-info.asp?id=28131 Seal Hunt Closes for Front Longliners] , VOCM, April 19, 2008] They were at the time the only groups of hunters close to catching their quota.


Four men missing

On March 29, 2008, a 12 metre fishing vessel, "L’Acadien II", with six men, capsized near Cape Breton. Navy divers searched the waters for four men, who had been sleeping in the lower decks of the vessel. Two men, who were at the upper decks, were rescued on to another fishing boat. The vessel had capsized when it was being towed by the Canadian Coast Guard's "Sir William Alexander". The "L’Acadien II" took part in the seal hunt, and had to be towed because of a steering problem. When the vessel had capsized, a Cormorant helicopter and a Hercules aircraft came to aid the rescue. The vessel had since been secured to the side of the Coast Guard's vessel.cite news|title= Four men still missing after fishing boat on seal hunt capsizes|url=http://www.canada.com/topics/news/story.html?id=9e91b88a-0ea7-4339-8f5d-733368599aa3&k=17366|publisher=Canada.com|date=2008-03-29|accessdate=2008-03-29] The navy divers recovered the bodies of three of the missing men on March 29, with one man still missing. The men who died were from the Magdalen Islands. They have been identified as Bruno Bourque, the boat's owner and captain, Gilles Leblanc (in his 50s), and Marc-Andre Deraspe (in his early 20s). [ [http://www.cjfw.ca/node/691023 One missing, three dead as sealing boat capsizes off Cape Breton] , The Canadian Press] Still missing, but presumed dead, is Carl Aucoin. [ [http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=14e78006-8563-4a41-b97d-79114ca569f8 Navy divers recover bodies of three sealers] , The Gazette, March 29, 2008]

Technical problems

On the evening of March 28, it was reported that two sealing vessels were taking in water, and one vessel had mechanical problems, in heavy ice conditions off Cape Breton. Two icebreakers were sent out to help the vessels out of the ice.cite news|title= Four men missing after fishing vessel capsizes off Cape Breton|url=http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5j1UFS2QxJWNFivIixTzn2F2pIQZw|publisher=Canadian Press|date=2008-03-29|accessdate=2008-03-29] On March 29, the coast guard and Department of Defence rescued seven people, before their vessel, "Annie Marie", was crushed in the ice pack northeast off Cape Breton. [ [http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/story.html?id=410875 Questions for Coast Guard after sealers drown during rescue] , National Post, March 30, 2008] [ [http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7010483024 Conservationists Renew Call To Stop Seal Hunt] , AHN, March 30, 2008]

On April 14, the vessel "Lucy May" burnt to the waterline, on Newfoundlands's northeast coast, after the crew had been rescued by a Cormorant helicopter. Also on April 14, the vessel "BS Venture", had mechanical trouble on Newfoundland's west coast, and six men escaped from the vessel before it ran ashore. The men reached land safely in Rocky Harbour, in a self brought speedboat. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2008/04/15/sealers-escape.html Sealers safe after fleeing ship drifting ashore] , CBC News, April 15, ((2008] ] [http://www.thewesternstar.com/index.cfm?sid=127323&sc=506 Another vessel sinks off coast] , The Western Star, April 18, 2008]

The vessel "White Bay Challenger", started to take in water on April 17, because it had been struck by ice while it was being escorted by the Canadian Coast Guard Ship "". The "White Bay Challenger" sank, after the seven people on board had been taken aboard the "Ann Harvey". [ [http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/news/story.html?id=f7d17845-1eaa-468d-bdf3-bbf5c8315f32 Third seal-hunt vessel abandoned] , Canada.com, April 18, 2008]

Observer permits

Journalists have a constitutional right to observe the hunt that was affirmed under a 1989 Federal Court of Appeal ruling. The federal government have a right to issue observer permits, to prevent the ice from being overcrowded with observers. A Seal Fishery Observation Licence in 2008 cost $25, and regulations on who is eligible for a license, were found in the Marine Mammal Regulations. [ [http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/ShowFullDoc/cr/SOR-93-56///en Marine Mammal Regulations (SOR/93-56)] , Department of Justice Canada, (Regulation current to March 25th, 2008)]

After noon, on March 28, federal fisheries officials, issued observer permits for the hunt's opening day, to activists and journalists. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080329.HUNT29/TPStory/National Sealing begins in St. Lawrence] , Globe and Mail, March 29, 2008] A couple of hours before the permits were issued, Phil Jenkins of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said that "We're going to delay the giving out of permits until we can understand what exact level of sealing is going on." [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2008/03/28/hunt-observers.html DFO delays issuing seal hunt observer permits] , CBC, March 28, 2008] When the permits were issued after noon, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) managed to fly out to film some scenes. The journalists (such as the United Kingdom's Sky TV,), and the representatives of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) were unable to make it to the ice floes, because the weather had turned bad during the day, making it very hard to fly a helicopter. DFO spokesman Phil Jenkins, said there had been issued 60 observer permits.cite news|title= Seal hunters, protesters head for the ice floes|url=http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=ff72842d-5f5b-4503-b676-ec103414bbaa|publisher=Canada.com|date=2008-03-28|accessdate=2008-03-29]

The permits for March 29, were issued on the evening of March 28.


According to the Marine Mammal Regulations, Canada do not allow the hunting of whitecoats. Whitecoats are suckling pups, of the harp or grey seal, under two weeks of age.

Most of the seals that are hunted, are young harp seals, called beaters.. They were whelped (born) in February or early March in whelping patches on the ice. Such patches vary from 20 to 200 square kilometres, and may contain as many as 2,000 adult females per square kilometre. [http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/zone/underwater_sous-marin/hseal/seal-phoque_e.htm The harp seal] , Fisheries and Oceans Canada] The pups are abandoned by their mothers at two weeks of age, and remain in the whelping patches until the ice starts to melt in March or early April. The hunt takes place in and around these whelping patches. [http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/misc/seal_briefing_e.htm Technical Briefing on the Harp Seal Hunt in Atlantic Canada] , Fisheries and Oceans Canada]

eal product sales

Carino, a Norwegian-owned company, is a major buyer of Canadian seals. The Carino plant is located in South Dildo in Newfoundland and Labrador. [ [http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/cmte/CommitteePublication.aspx?SourceId=184865&Lang=1&PARLSES=391&JNT=0&COM=10480 39th Parliament, 1st Session - Standing Commitee on Fisheries and Oceans] , cmte.parl.gc.ca, November 6, 2006] Carino's Norwegian parent company, Rieber Skinn, [cite web |url= |title=Secondary Processing of Seal Skins] announced in April 2008 that its factory in Bergen, Norway, with 17 employees, is closing down within a year. As a result, sealskin from seals captured in Norway will be processed in their plant in Canada. An agreement with Canada says that Rieber is bound to process sealskin in Canada. [ [http://www.bt.no/na24/article545681.ece Rieber legger ned] (Norwegian), Bergens Tidende, April 14, 2008]


The R/V Farley Mowat

On March 24, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's vessel, the "R/V Farley Mowat", left Bermuda to head for the Gulf of St. Lawrence.cite news|title= Sea Shepherd to monitor seal hunt|url=http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/story.html?id=3ad301e4-7a7c-4aba-a151-ce079bf8b9da|publisher=Edmonton Journal|date=2008-03-22|accessdate=2008-03-31] The seventeen persons on the vessel were from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, South Africa, Canada and the United States. [http://www.canada.com/globaltv/bc/story.html?id=2fa0e7fc-5c3f-47a8-b7ff-a0dc53a65b18&k=10047 Anti-seal hunt protesters decry Canada's 'act of war' in seizing their vessel] , Canada.com, April 13, 2008]

On March 21, the Canadian government's Lawrence Cannon, had sent a fax to the "Farley Mowat", ordering it not to enter Canadian waters, and warning it of prosecution if the order was not complied with. Paul Watson replied to the minister that the conventions of the IMO apply to commercial ships, but the Farley Mowat is a Dutch registered yacht. He said the Farley Mowat would enter the Canadian Economic Exclusion Zone, but not the 12 mile territorial limit.cite news|title= Canada Orders Sea Shepherd to Stay Away from Seal Hunt|url=http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2008/2008-03-24-02.asp|publisher=Environment News Service|date=2008-03-24|accessdate=2008-03-31]


On March 30, according to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the "Farley Mowat" was rammed twice by the icebreaker "Des Groseilliers", from the Canadian Coast Guard. The collision occurred after the "Farley Mowat" failed to comply with a request from "Des Groseilliers" not to approach the seal hunt area. Plates on the "Farley Mowat" were buckled by the contact, but there were no other damages. Phil Jenkins of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans called the allegation "absolutely false."cite news|title= Confrontation breaks out on high seas over East Coast seal hunt|url=http://www.ckwstv.com/news/national-news/20080331-Confrontation-Breaks-Out-On.html|publisher=CKWS|date=2008-03-31|accessdate=2008-03-31] cite news|title= Anti-sealing ship says it was rammed twice by Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker|url=http://www.ckwstv.com/news/national-news/20080331-Anti-sealing-Ship-Says-It.html|publisher=CKWS|date=2008-03-31|accessdate=2008-03-31] Loyola Hearn (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans), issued a statement on March 31, saying the allegations were "completely untrue", and that the "Farley Mowat" maneuvered itself in front of the "Des Groseilliers" to cause a collision as an attempt to provoke a confrontation, and attract media attention. [ [http://www.streetinsider.com/Press+Releases/DFO:+Minister+Hearn+Calls+for+Extremist+Animal+Rights+Group+to+Respect+the+Safety+of+Sealers/3502097.html DFO: Minister Hearn Calls for Extremist Animal Rights Group to Respect the Safety of Sealers] , StreetInsider.com, March 31, 2008] Paul Watson replied on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's website, on April 1, that "Des Groseilliers" is faster and more maneuverable in the ice than the "Farley Mowat", and that the "Farley Mowat" was stopped when it was hit for the second time. He said the entire incident was captured on video by a man on board the "Farley Mowat", and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) helicopter was going to pick up the video on March 31, but had been grounded by the government. [ [http://www.seashepherd.org/news/media_080401_1.html Hearn is Spinning a Tangled Web of Lies to Defend Government Incompetence] , Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, April 1, 2008]

Sealer Shane Briand said the "Farley Mowat" came close to the hunters about sixty km off Cape Breton, and broke up the ice under a hunter, on March 30. He said his ship and crew was harassed, until the "Des Groseilliers" arrived.

Paul Watson's remarks

A release from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on April 2, [http://www.seashepherd.org/news/media_080402_1.html Sea Shepherd News - Seal Slaughter Suspended for a Week] , Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, April 2, 2008] said that "The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society recognizes that the deaths of four sealers is a tragedy but Sea Shepherd also recognizes that the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seal pups is an even greater tragedy." Paul Watson was quoted in the same release: "One of the sealers was quoted as saying that he felt absolutely helpless as he watched the boat sink with sealers on board. I can’t think of anything that defines helplessness and fear more than a seal pup on the ice that can’t swim or escape as it is approached by some cigarette smoking ape with a club. This is a seal nursery and these men are sadistic baby killers and that might offend some people but it is the unvarnished truth – they are vicious killers who are now pleading for sympathy because some of their own died while engaged in a viciously brutal activity."

Because of these quotes, the leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May, decided on April 3 to resign from the advisory board of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. [ [http://thechronicleherald.ca/Canada/1047533.html Green party boss leaves advisory committee over Watson’s remarks] , The Chronicle Herald, April 4, 2008]

On April 4, angry fishermen used axes to cut the mooring lines of the "Farley Mowat", in St-Pierre where it was tied up. According to a fisherman, the ropes were cut because the fishermen of St-Pierre did not accept what Paul Watson had said. There had first been a confrontation between the activists and the fishermen. [ [http://www.miamiherald.com/580/story/482114.html Seal hunt protesters chased from port] , The Associated Press, April 04, 2008] [ [http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/410312 Seal hunt protestors chased from St-Pierre port] , The Canadian Press, April 04, 2008]


On April 5, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Loyola Hearn announced that charges were being laid against the "Farley Mowat"'s Dutch [Paul Watson [http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2005/2005-04-01-inswat.asp INSIGHTS: Sea Shepherd Seal Hunt Protesters Beaten, Arrested] , ens-newswire.com, April 1, 2005] captain, Alexander Cornelissen, and Swedish First Officer Peter Hammarstedt. [http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/media/newsrel/2008/hq-ac25_e.htm Charges Laid Against the Captain and Chief Officer of the Farley Mowat] , Fisheries and Oceans Canada, April 5, 2008] They were charged with contraventions of the Marine Mammal Regulations (MMR), on getting too close to the hunt without an observer permit. Captain Alexander Cornelissen was also charged under the Fisheries Act, for obstructing or hindering a Fishery Officer, a fishery guardian or an inspector.

On April 12, armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers boarded and seized the "Farley Mowat". They had first asked permission to board the vessel, but were refused. The "Farley Mowat"'s captain and first officer were arrested. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/7458065 Canadian Police Seize Anti-Hunt Ship] , The Guardian, April 13, 2008] According to the Fisheries Department, the Farley Mowat is to be kept in DFO custody until a court orders the release of the vessel. According to Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the boarding happened in international waters, and the "Farley Mowat" had never strayed into Canada's 12-nautical-mile territorial limit. He said this was proven in the ship's logs and GPS records, which the Canadian authorities had seized. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080414.SEAL14/TPStory/National Coast Guard seized ship on high seas, protesters say] , The Globe and Mail, April 14, 2008] According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the vessel was seized in Canadian national waters.

The captain and first officer, were granted a $5,000 bail each, in a Sydney, Nova Scotia courtroom on April 13. [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/04/13/seal-arrests.html?ref=rss N.S. court grants bail to anti-sealing activists] , CBC News, April 13, 2008] The 17 crew members went on a hunger strike, until the two men were to be released. [ [http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,23535929-5005961,00.html Seal protesters on hunger strike] , The Herald Sun, April 14, 2008] The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, bailed the men out with $10,000 donated by author Farley Mowat. [ [http://www.ngnews.ca/index.cfm?sid=126165&sc=516 Farley Mowat bails out crew and namesake ship after N.S. arrest] , The News, April 15, 2008]

The next court appearance was scheduled for May 1, 2008. A new hearing was then scheduled for May 9, and a preliminary hearing for July 2. [ [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080501.wmowat0501/BNStory/National/home Fate of anti-sealing vessel awaits May 9 hearing] , Globe and Mail, May 1, 2008]

Possible European Union ban

The European Union is considering a ban on all seal products. A Canadian delegation headed to Europe in March 2008, to lobby for the hunt. The delegation includes Canadian Fisheries Conservation representative Loyola Sullivan, Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik, Newfoundland Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale, Fur Institute of Canada executive director Rob Cahill, and sealers Mark Small and Denis Longuepee. The delegation travels to London, Brussels, Berlin, Vienna and Paris. [ [http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/story.html?id=7d7d4162-b960-4899-b383-f47d74eca0e9 Sealers' deaths fuel propaganda war] ]

ee also

*Seal hunting


External links

* [http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca Fisheries and Oceans Canada]
* [http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/ShowFullDoc/cr/SOR-93-56///en Marine Mammal Regulations (SOR/93-56)] , Department of Justice Canada, (Regulation current to March 25th, 2008)
* [http://www.thenewsmarket.com/ifaw Images and video of the 2008 hunt] , by the International Fund for Animal Welfare
* [http://www.sealsandsealing.net Seals and Sealing Network] by the Fur Institute of Canada
* [http://blog.stopthesealhunt.com/2008/04/ifaw-2008-seal.html IFAW 2008 Seal Hunt Press and Blog Coverage] , by the International Fund for Animal Welfare
* [http://www.seashepherd.org/seals2008/ Seal Defense Campaign 2008] by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
* [http://www.hsus.org/protect_seals.html Protect Seals 2008] by the Humane Society

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