If the calls of countless animal rights activists and conservationist groups weren't enough to bring an end to Canada's yearly seal hunt, economic hardship and climate change just might. Despite international protests against the hunt, Canadian officials kicked off the annual slaughter this week with a record high quota on the number of seals to be shot, stabbed, or bludgeoned to death -- putting the lives of 468,200 animals on block. But it seems, to many who have participated in years passed, hunting seals isn't quite as appealing as it used to be.Although the annual seal hunt opened earlier this week through northeastern Newfoundland, reports say that folks aren't showing up in the numbers they have in the past. Since the European Union enacted a ban on seal products, the demand for the animal's once popular pelts has declined dramatically.
Additionally, changes in sea ice levels associated with global warming have made it difficult for the hunt to carry on as smoothly as before.
From the Environment News Service:
Dwight Spence of Port au Choix on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula told the CBC that he and the other sealers he knows say prices are too low for them to make a profit this year after paying for fuel and supplies. The sealers earn about $21 for each top-quality pelt, way down from the price level a decade ago.
"The prices that's there now, it's just not feasible," said Spence.
Sea ice conditions determine when sealers begin hunting in areas that include the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence and the much larger hunt on the Front off northern Newfoundland.
The seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence opened a week earlier, but this year a lack of ice kept sealers at home, said Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials.
Those in opposition to the seal hunt, like Sheryl Fink of International Fund for Animal Welfare are puzzled why the Canadian government would continue to invest millions of dollars towards the cruel practice despite the lack of financial returns.
"Seals and sealers need protection and they are not getting it. With its current approach, the government is failing. It is time that the Canadian government stood up, did the right thing, ended the seal hunt and transitioned sealers into stable and secure alternatives," says Fink.
Polling shows that a vast majority of Canadians now oppose the seal hunt which costs the nation $2.3 million annually -- so it's a wonder why legislation hasn't been put forth that reflects the peoples' opinion of the cruel practice.