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350,000 slaughtered a year in Canada Photo: Getty Image
350,000 slaughtered a year in Canada Photo: Getty Image
 
 
 
 
 
The 350,000 annual figure is merely an official number; in actuality, tens of thousands more seals are killed"
 
 
 
 
 
 

Israel joins global seal-hunting protest

Demonstrations in more than 50 countries, including Israel, to be held in front of Canadian embassies in protest of mass seal slaughter

By Tal Eitan and Dan Bentsur
Published: 03.12.05, 17:47 / Israel News

TEL AVIV - Israeli wildlife protection organizations are scheduled to participate in a worldwide protest against the slaughter of Harp seals in Canada.

 

Israeli wildlife protection organizations are scheduled to hold a demonstration on Tuesday, March 15 at 3 P.M. (8 A.M. EST) in front of the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv, in protest of the government authorized commercial slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Harp seals in north Canada, which is expected to reach its peak during the spring.

 

The demonstration is part of the International

Day of Protest Against Canada's Seal Hunt. 

 

Simultaneous rallies are expected to take place in front of Canadian embassies in over 50 countries, including the U.S, Mexico, and several European and South American countries.

 

According to Alona Haruvi of Israel4wildlife, which is organizing the rally along with The Israeli Society for the Abolition of Vivisection (ISAV), the seal-hunting season peaks between March and May.

 

During this period female seals go onshore to whelp, making it easier to hunt them in large numbers, she says.

 

3-year plan to kill a million seals

 

"Wildlife protection organizations worldwide are holding simultaneous protests to expose this slaughter to the media and the public so as to apply pressure on the Canadian government to end the slaughter for good," she says. "The U.S. Senate and Congress are applying pressure as well."

 

Wildlife protection organizations estimate that 96 percent of the seals slaughtered are between 12 days and 12 weeks old, as at this age they are still unable to swim and therefore are easier to hunt down.

 

Haruvi says the protests are focusing on

Canada because that is where the most extensive slaughter of seals in the last 50 years is taking place.

 

"In no other country is there authorization to hunt seals in such quantities," she says.

 

Haruvi says the harm done to the species is even greater.

 

The seal pups left to die of hunger on the ice following their mothers' slaughter, and the seals that do manage to escape after they are shot, but later die in the water are not included in the statistics, she says.

 

"The 350,000 annual figure is merely an official number; in reality, tens of thousands more seals are killed,” she says.

 

Killing seals to make aphrodisiacs

 

Canada is entering the second year of its new three-year "management plan" for harp seals. The plan, devised by Canada's Department of Fisheries and Ocean (DFO), allows sealers to kill 975,000 harp seals over three years.

 

In two of those three years, sealers may kill as many as 350,000 harp seals.

 

The current quota marks a significant increase from the annual slaughter of 275,000 seals before the plan came into effect.

 

The seals are killed for their pelts, their penises (which are used to make aphrodisiacs in Asian markets), oil (which Canada promotes as a health supplement), and meat.

 

According to the U.S. Humane Society, the Canadian government and fishing industry claim that seals in the North Atlantic must be culled because they eat too many Cod Fish.

 

However, two of the government's own scientists reported that the true cause of the depletion of cod in the North Atlantic was over-fishing. 

 

The Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv said in a statement "The harp seal population in Canada is healthy and abundant. The population is nearly three times what it was in the 1970s. This is due, in great part, to the strict conservation measures Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has in place, and our commitment to the sustainable management of all seal populations."

 

"In Atlantic Canada there has been, and continues to be, a hunt for harp and hooded seals. Sealing brings important economic benefits to coastal communities. Seals are a valuable natural resource, that, when harvested in a responsible manner, provide valuable income to about 15,000 Canadian sealers and their families," the statement said. 

 

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