Norway Seal Hunt - 8th November 2001

Norway's fishery minister said tourist hunting parties would solve a seal overpopulation problem on the coast and might be a hit with holidaymakers. Svein Ludvigsen told Norwegian fishing newspaper Fiskaren that seal hunting vacationers could help Norway meet its culling quotas and reduce pressure on fishing stocks. "Seal hunting in the wild Norwegian coastal nature should be sold as an exclusive product to tourists," the Monday edition of the paper quoted Ludvigsen as saying. "That could be a hit." Ludvigsen said there is an imbalance in the ecological system and called for control over the North Sea seal population. Norway says that despite their cute and cuddly image the seals deplete fish stocks and damage fishing nets. "We cannot just blindly follow the views of (French actress and animal rights campaigner) Brigitte Bardot. We have to take out more animals," the Norwegian minister said. The Norwegian cull was restarted in 1995 despite an international outcry led by animal rights campaigners. So far, only half the quota allowed for this year's hunt has been met.

The hunters claim they kill baby seals in the most humane way, by striking them on the head with an ice pick. Oslo says seals are a renewable resource which should be harvested to preserve an ecological balance in the oceans. Seal hunting was banned in 1989 after widely seen television footage of blood-soaked hunts sparked protests and prompted the European Union to ban seal skin imports.

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