Date: May 02, 2007
Author: David Bevan
Origin: The Hamilton Spectator

Re: 'Seals and sealers alike left out on thin ice; Inhumane hunt allowed to continue despite lack of enough seal pups to fill the government quota' (Opinion, April 20)

The reduction of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of harp seals this year to 270,000 from last year's 335,000 is reflective of two trends.

One, the requirement to reduce the TAC to maintain the Department of Fisheries and Oceans management plan, which ensures the harp seal population remains at, or above, 4.07 million animals; two, the poor ice conditions in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, an area that represents a relatively small portion of the seal herd, but where we can expect higher than average pup mortality this year.

Ice conditions have been factored into DFO harp seal management plans since the 1980s.

Since the 1970s, when we first applied TACs to the harp seal hunt, the population has almost tripled, from 1.8 million to about 5.5 million animals today.

Respected wildlife conservation organizations agree there is no conservation issue. At those abundant numbers, seals are in no way endangered.

Groups who oppose the hunt would certainly like their supporters to believe poor ice in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence is another reason to end the hunt entirely, yet their argument doesn't hold up to the track record compiled by four decades of responsible and cautious resource management by DFO.

The writer employs a curious line of reasoning when he suggests sealing should end because a profile of a typical community where sealing takes place reveals a demography that is older, less educated, and with real estate values lower than that of other communities in Canada.

If the writer spent time speaking to people in coastal communities in Atlantic Canada his perspective might change.

He would discover his fellow Canadians on the east coast are proud of their work, and for some that work includes sealing.

That's why the TAC is set at a responsible and sustainable level, and why sealing continues to be an important piece of the economic equation for Atlantic Canadians.
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