OTTAWA, Canada -- It's that time of year again when certain groups begin distributing misinformation about Canada's harp seal hunt, which tarnishes the reputation of Aboriginal and Atlantic sealers. As Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, I want to make sure the facts are clear.
Canada's commercial seal hunts are humane, sustainable and economically important, based on sound conservation principles and regulations that are carefully monitored and enforced. Our quota levels ensure the continued health and abundance of seal herds, and with more than 5.5 million harp seals just off Canada's shores it's wrong for anyone to suggest that their population is at risk. This number is triple what it was in the 1970s.
Yet each year professional activists who earn their living protesting the seal hunt descend upon Atlantic Canada, enjoy its hospitality, then attack the integrity, cultural heritage and livelihoods of these same coastal citizens and their communities.
These groups arm themselves with carefully crafted misinformation, including photo opportunities with celebrities and young "whitecoat" seals -- seals that it has been against the law to hunt in Canada for more than two decades.
Their claims of how the hunt is run fly in the face of independent, peer-reviewed veterinary reports that show seals are harvested in a humane manner. Even a December 2007 study by the European Food Safety Authority on the hunting practices of global seal hunts affirmed that humane hunting practices exist, and upheld the legitimacy and humaneness of Canada's techniques.
Seals have been harvested for food, fuel, clothing, shelter and other products for hundreds of years and sealing remains an important part of Canada's cultural heritage.
The Government of Canada will continue to speak up in support of the hunt and in defence of our sealers who carry out a legal, humane, and sustainable hunt that has been part of our culture for centuries.
To our neighbours in the international community, I would encourage you to get the facts on the seal hunt before you accept the arguments being put before you from any organization seeking your hard-earned dollars to fund their campaigns.
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