March 29, 2007

Seal hunt quota sharply reduced

Mar 29, 2007

OTTAWA – The Canadian government has reduced the number of seals hunters will be able to take in this year's East Coast seal hunt.

Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn says the total allowable catch for harp seals will be 270,000, a sharp reduction from last year's quota of 335,000 animals.

The reduction represents concern over poor ice conditions in the southern part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, although Fisheries officials insist the overall herd remains healthy and abundant.

The one-year quota of 270,000 includes allocations of 2,000 seals for personal use and 4,860 seals for aboriginal initiatives. The largest part of the hunt will take place off Newfoundland and Labrador, where 70 per cent of the quota will be taken.

Thirty per cent of the seals will be taken in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, mostly in the northern regions of the Gulf. Hearn says the department will accelerate the next harp seal population survey to make sure the herd is strong. He says the survey will take place next year instead of 2009.

Animal rights organizations say thousands of seal pups have drowned because of the poor ice and they are blaming global warming.

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