Canadian government maintains seal cull quota
24th December 2000

The Canadian government has left unchanged at 275,000 the limit on the number of harp seals that may be killed in 2001, Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal said Wednesday. It will be the fifth year running that the annual quota has been at this level.

Dhaliwal said in a statement that "Given last years low harvest and the continuing health and abundance of the seal population, existing management measures will remain in place." He added that any revision to the current ceiling would come after he received feedback from a specialist panel created in early 2000.

The minister's announcement disappointed animal rights groups -- especially the US-based International Fund for Animal Welfare which has argued that the current harvest levels are reducing the seal population.

Rick Smith, one of the leaders of the fund's Canadian branch, said, "Canada's refusal to decrease its quota means that management of its hunt is neither conservation-oriented nor precautionary."

The Canadian government argues that culling is essential in order to conserve stocks of fish off the coast of Newfoundland, where seals compete with commercial fisherman for cod.

The harp seal is the most common kind of seal found in the northern Atlantic, where its current population is estimated at some 5.2 million.

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