Date: March 30, 2007
Origin: North Bay Nugget

The federal government has sharply reduced the annual quota for harp seals on the East Coast.

Although criticized by animal rights activists, the government has shown responsible stewardship of the resource.

Activists say even a reduced hunt could threaten the species because a large number of pups have drowned due to a lack of ice in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The quota this year will be 270,000 animals compared with 335,000 last year.

Federal officials say hunters will be permitted to harvest the animals in all traditional areas.

Despite what could be a 90 to 100 per cent mortality rate in the southern Gulf, fisheries officials reiterated it's within "precautionary approach."

The sealing industry has been under attack, particularly in the European Union where countries have or are considering bans on seal products.

It's a shame ignorance of resource management has be propagated in Europe.

Many aboriginal hunters rely on the sale of seal pelts to earn income to get them through the year. Hunting seals is also part of the traditional culture of these societies.

It's typical European arrogance that has led to a standoff with these EU countries. It should be left up to their citizens to decide whether they want to purchase seal products or not. If there's no market, then there will be no imports.

It's becoming increasingly tiring to have governments treat us like children and make moral decisions on our behalf.

It's a strong message our government is sending - we can responsibly manage our resources without stripping aboriginal peoples of their livelihood and culture.

Fisheries officials insist the harp seal herd is healthy and abundant at about 5.5 million animals.

It's also frustrating to have animal rights activists from just about every country but Canada come here to protest. It's none of their business.

To compare management of the seal herd to the destruction of the cod fishery is misleading and inaccurate.

Activists should focus more on global warming, a situation that could do more damage to the health of the seal herd than hunters could ever accomplish.
 
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