2008 Canadian commercial seal hunt

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2008 Canadian commercial seal hunt
Date(s) March 28, 2008 - April 2008
(November 2007 - May 2008)[1]
Location(s) The Gulf of St. Lawrence and around Newfoundland, Quebec and Nova Scotia, Canada
Inaugurated 1723 [2][3]
Most recent -

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.[1] Canada's seal hunt is the world's largest hunt for marine mammals.[4]

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.[5]

The pelts and oil are sold to buyers in Norway, Russia, and China.[4]

The total allowable catch for 2008 is set by the Canadian government to 275,000 harp seals, (the quota includes 2,000 seals for personal seal hunting, and 4,950 seals for the Aboriginal seal hunt,)[6] 8,200 hooded seals and 12,000 grey seals.[1][7][8]

2008 Regulations[edit]

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.[9] The European Union recommended to add this rule, in a report released in December 2007.[10] This is to prevent the seal from being skinned alive and having to withstand that pain.

Locations and quota[edit]

The hunt in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence started on Friday March 28, 2008.[10] A handful of sealing vessels set out before dawn from the Magdalen Islands.[11] 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.[10][10] The majority of the hunters for these first days of the hunt, are from the Magdalen Islands.[12] The average seal hunt brings in about $1 million annually to the Magdalen Islands.[13] Per March 30, about 1000 had been killed.[14] On March 30, the hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, opened for the people from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.[15][16] Per April 18, Sealers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence had taken about half of their total allowable catch (TAC) of 51,500 seals.[17]

The biggest part of the 2008 Canadian seal hunt takes place off Newfoundland and Labrador, known as the Front.[18] 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.[19] According to Fisheries Department spokesman Larry Yetman, up to 120 larger boats were heading to the Front on April 12.[20]

Per April 18, sealers on the Front had taken 56% of a total 194,000 seals allowed to be taken in the area.[17] 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.[17]

The seal hunt for Longliners on the Front, closed on April 19, 2008.[21] They were at the time the only groups of hunters close to catching their quota.[17]

Vessels[edit]

Four men missing[edit]

Main article: L'Acadien II

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.[22] 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).[23] Still missing, but presumed dead,[14] is Carl Aucoin.[24]

Technical problems[edit]

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.[25] 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.[26][27]

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.[28][29]

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 Ann Harvey. The White Bay Challenger sank, after the seven people on board had been taken aboard the Ann Harvey.[29][30]

Observer permits[edit]

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.[31] 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.[32]

After noon, on March 28, federal fisheries officials, issued observer permits for the hunt's opening day, to activists and journalists.[31] 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."[16] When the permits were issued after noon,[31] 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,[33]), 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.[31] DFO spokesman Phil Jenkins, said there had been issued 60 observer permits.[33]

The permits for March 29, were issued on the evening of March 28.[31]

Seals[edit]

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.[34] 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.[35] 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.[35] The hunt takes place in and around these whelping patches.[36]

Seal product sales[edit]

Carino, a Norwegian-owned company, is a major buyer of Canadian seals. The Carino plant is located in South Dildo in Newfoundland and Labrador.[37] Carino's Norwegian parent company, Rieber Skinn,[38] 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.[39]

Protests[edit]

The R/V Farley Mowat[edit]

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.[40] The seventeen persons on the vessel were from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, South Africa, Canada and the United States.[41]

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 International Maritime Organization 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-nautical-mile (22 km) territorial limit.[34]

Collision[edit]

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."[42][43] 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.[44] 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.[45]

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.[41]

Paul Watson's remarks[edit]

A release from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on April 2,[46] 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."[46]

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.[47]

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.[48][49]

Charges[edit]

On April 5, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Loyola Hearn announced that charges were being laid against the Farley Mowat's Dutch[50] captain, Alexander Cornelissen, and Swedish First Officer Peter Hammarstedt.[51] 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.[51]

On April 12, armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers[52] 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.[53] According to the Fisheries Department, the Farley Mowat is to be kept in DFO custody until a court orders the release of the vessel.[41] 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 (22 km) territorial limit. He said this was proven in the ship's logs and GPS records, which the Canadian authorities had seized.[52] According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the vessel was seized in Canadian national waters.[52]

The captain and first officer, were granted a $5,000 bail each, in a Sydney, Nova Scotia courtroom on April 13.[54] The 17 crew members went on a hunger strike, until the two men were to be released.[55] The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, bailed the men out with $10,000 donated by author Farley Mowat.[56]

The next court appearance was scheduled for May 1, 2008.[54] A new hearing was then scheduled for May 9, and a preliminary hearing for July 2.[57]

Possible European Union ban[edit]

The European Union is considering a ban on all seal products.[10] 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.[58]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Leonard, Tom (2008-03-26). "Canada defiant over annual seal pup cull". London: The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 28 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  2. ^ Sealing History, thesealfishery.com
  3. ^ The Canadian Seal Hunt - A Timeline, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  4. ^ a b Gillies, Rob. "Canada's Contentious Seal Hunt Begins", Associated Press, March 28, 2008.[dead link]
  5. ^ Canada's seal hunt begins amid wary eyes, improved population, Rocky Mountain News, March 29, 2008
  6. ^ Minister Hearn announces 2008 management measures for Atlantic seal hunt, NovaNewsnow.com, March 13, 2008
  7. ^ Canada's 2008 Commercial Seal Hunt Starts Today - 275,000 Harp Seal Pups Are Targeted for Slaughter, Fox Business
  8. ^ Frequently Asked Questions About Canada's Seal Hunt, Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.
  9. ^ Annual seal hunt begins, The Herald Sun, March 29, 2008
  10. ^ a b c d e "Canada's Contentious Seal Hunt Begins". London: The Guardian. 2008-03-28. Archived from the original on 2008-04-01. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  11. ^ Seal hunt protest vessel, Canadian coast guard collide at sea, AFP, March 31, 2008
  12. ^ "Navy divers recover bodies of three sealers". Canada.com. 2008-03-29. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  13. ^ Gruff island sealers shed tears over dead and missing friends, March 31, 2008[dead link]
  14. ^ a b Families angry over sealers' deaths, The Sunday Times, March 31, 2008
  15. ^ Families await explanation after sealing accident leaves four dead or missing, Truro Daily News, March 31, 2008
  16. ^ a b DFO delays issuing seal hunt observer permits, CBC, March 28, 2008
  17. ^ a b c d Seal hunt inching toward completion, The Telegram, April 19, 2008
  18. ^ "Tension on ice as seal hunt begins; Hunters close in on large herd in Cabot Strait". The Peterborough Examiner. 2008-03-29. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  19. ^ Hunt, investigation to get underway, The Telegram, April 5. 2008
  20. ^ Final phase of seal hunt begins; Opens under shadow of tragedy, uncertainty, The North Bay Nugget, April 12, 2008
  21. ^ Seal Hunt Closes for Front Longliners, VOCM, April 19, 2008
  22. ^ "Four men still missing after fishing boat on seal hunt capsizes". Canada.com. 2008-03-29. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  23. ^ One missing, three dead as sealing boat capsizes off Cape Breton, The Canadian Press
  24. ^ Navy divers recover bodies of three sealers, The Gazette, March 29, 2008
  25. ^ "Four men missing after fishing vessel capsizes off Cape Breton". Canadian Press. 2008-03-29. Retrieved 2008-03-29. [dead link]
  26. ^ Questions for Coast Guard after sealers drown during rescue, National Post, March 30, 2008
  27. ^ Conservationists Renew Call To Stop Seal Hunt, AHN, March 30, 2008
  28. ^ Sealers safe after fleeing ship drifting ashore, CBC News, April 15, 2008
  29. ^ a b Another vessel sinks off coast, The Western Star, April 18, 2008
  30. ^ Third seal-hunt vessel abandoned, Canada.com, April 18, 2008
  31. ^ a b c d e Sealing begins in St. Lawrence, Globe and Mail, March 29, 2008
  32. ^ Marine Mammal Regulations (SOR/93-56), Department of Justice Canada, (Regulation current to March 25th, 2008)
  33. ^ a b "Seal hunters, protesters head for the ice floes". Canada.com. 2008-03-28. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  34. ^ a b "Canada Orders Sea Shepherd to Stay Away from Seal Hunt". Environment News Service. 2008-03-24. Archived from the original on 4 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  35. ^ a b The harp seal, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  36. ^ Technical Briefing on the Harp Seal Hunt in Atlantic Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  37. ^ 39th Parliament, 1st Session - Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, cmte.parl.gc.ca, November 6, 2006
  38. ^ "Secondary Processing of Seal Skins" (PDF). Retrieved 16 April 2008. 
  39. ^ Rieber legger ned (Norwegian), Bergens Tidende, April 14, 2008
  40. ^ "Sea Shepherd to monitor seal hunt". Edmonton Journal. 2008-03-22. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  41. ^ a b c Anti-seal hunt protesters decry Canada's 'act of war' in seizing their vessel, Canada.com, April 13, 2008
  42. ^ "Confrontation breaks out on high seas over East Coast seal hunt". CKWS. 2008-03-31. Retrieved 2008-03-31. [dead link]
  43. ^ "Anti-sealing ship says it was rammed twice by Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker". CKWS. 2008-03-31. Retrieved 2008-03-31. [dead link]
  44. ^ DFO: Minister Hearn Calls for Extremist Animal Rights Group to Respect the Safety of Sealers, StreetInsider.com, March 31, 2008
  45. ^ Hearn is Spinning a Tangled Web of Lies to Defend Government Incompetence, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, April 1, 2008
  46. ^ a b Sea Shepherd News - Seal Slaughter Suspended for a Week, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, April 2, 2008
  47. ^ Green party boss leaves advisory committee over Watson’s remarks, The Chronicle Herald, April 4, 2008
  48. ^ Seal hunt protesters chased from port, The Associated Press, April 4, 2008
  49. ^ Seal hunt protestors chased from St-Pierre port, The Canadian Press, April 4, 2008
  50. ^ Paul Watson INSIGHTS: Sea Shepherd Seal Hunt Protesters Beaten, Arrested, ens-newswire.com, April 1, 2005
  51. ^ a b Charges Laid Against the Captain and Chief Officer of the Farley Mowat, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, April 5, 2008
  52. ^ a b c Coast Guard seized ship on high seas, protesters say, The Globe and Mail, April 14, 2008
  53. ^ Canadian Police Seize Anti-Hunt Ship, The Guardian, April 13, 2008
  54. ^ a b N.S. court grants bail to anti-sealing activists, CBC News, April 13, 2008
  55. ^ Seal protesters on hunger strike, The Herald Sun, April 14, 2008
  56. ^ Farley Mowat bails out crew and namesake ship after N.S. arrest, The News, April 15, 2008
  57. ^ Fate of anti-sealing vessel awaits May 9 hearing, Globe and Mail, May 1, 2008
  58. ^ Sealers' deaths fuel propaganda war

External links[edit]