Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A reply from the DFO

Look at what the cat dragged in... Kevin Stringer from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans responded to my letter to minister Geoff Regan.

I haven't responded yet, but I'll post my next letter on here when I draft it up.

This response letter seems sneakily like a form letter, too, I might add.


Dear Mr. Woods:

Thank you for your correspondence of March 23, 2005, regarding the Atlantic seal hunt. The Honourable Geoff Regan, P.C., M.P., Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), has asked me to reply on his behalf.

While Canada certainly respects the rights of individuals to oppose the seal hunt, many myths about the seal hunt remain. I encourage you to form your opinion based on the facts. 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 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 sustainable manner, provide valuable income to about 15,000 Canadian sealers and their families. As the federal minister responsible for the management of this resource, Minister Regan must ensure that the seal hunt is sustainable.

In September 2002 the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) issued a Special Report on Animal Welfare and the Harp Seal Hunt in Atlantic Canada. Results of independent observations of the seal hunt made by representatives and veterinarians of the CVMA, in recent years, were reported and compared to observations made by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). The conclusion of the CVMA study is that a large majority of seals taken during the hunt (98 per cent) are killed in an acceptably humane manner.

The hunt of harp (whitecoat) and hooded (blueback) seal pups has been banned in Canada since 1987. Regulations also prohibit the trade, sale, or barter of the fur of these pups. The seals hunted must be independent animals, i.e., they have already been weaned by their mothers and left to fend for themselves. They must have already molted their white or blue coats before they can be taken.

The existing multi-year (2003-2005) management measures for the seal hunt are based on sound conservation principles and a commitment to strong, peer-reviewed scientific advice. Quotas are set at levels that make the continued health and abundance of the herd the main priority. To meet this goal, DFO will continue to monitor and enforce the rules and regulations governing the seal hunt to ensure conservation is respected. The harp seal Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is set at 975,000 seals over three years. In 2003 a total of 283,497 harp seals were harvested, and in 2004 sealers harvested 365,971 harp seals.

Given the current high population levels, the new plan allows sealers to maximize their benefits without compromising conservation. Seal management is and will continue to be founded on sound conservation principles.

To help ensure proper conservation, DFO will continue to emphasize at-sea surveillance, conduct dock-side checks, monitor quotas, and check sealers for proper licence and observation permits: as well as ensure humane hunting practices, compliance with Marine Mammal Regulations, and the proper use of hunting instruments.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write to me about this important matter. I hope the information I have provided answers your questions and addresses your concerns. For further information, you can visit the following website: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/seal-phoque//index_e.htm.

Sincerely,
original signed by:
Kevin Stringer
Director General
Resource Management
Fisheries and Aquaculture Management

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