It's March, and harp seal pups have been born in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off the coast of Newfoundland. This year, with sparse Gulf ice, the harp seal mothers who migrated to the Southern Gulf gave birth mostly off the coast of Prince Edward Island. How well the pups survive on the ice in the next couple weeks is yet to be seen. These pups, too young to swim, are at the mercy of winds and air temperatures, and changes in climate that are out of their control.
Another looming hazard for the seal pups is Canada's seal 'hunt'. Will it happen this year? With almost all markets for seal products closed worldwide, with hundreds of thousands of seal pup's pelts already stockpiled, one would hope that reason would prevail, and the seal pups would be allowed to live.
But the Canadian government does not act in a rational manner. Giving CAN$2.3 million of Newfoundland tax money to a foreign seal skin processor (a purported 'loan' that can never be repaid) last year was not a rational act. Since the money was not fully utilized, it is possible that the killing will happen again this year without any additional allocations of taxpayer funds. Seal pups may again die not just for vanity, but in vain.
What can you do?This is the time of year when protests occur around the world. Mid-March is the 'World Week of Action for the Seals'. There will be events in Canada, including a protest in Nanaimo. Visit our Seal Activist Network and sign up for or post your event.
In addition to outdoor protests, Harpseals.org is calling for a worldwide call in day, March 15, 2013, to Members of Canada's Parliament in Ottawa. The message that we want to convey is
Move On, CanadaThe world has said 'No' to the bloody pelts stolen from defenseless harp seal pups. Now, it's time for Canada to accept the world's condemnation of this massacre and 'Move On'. Move on to fund a buyout of sealing licenses. Move on to support training for these fishermen/sealers who are finding less and less work as fishermen as the ocean ecology is decimated (by them).
Let's overload their phone lines with calls to 'Move on, Canada! End the seal hunt now!'
Please call Right Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister: 613-992-4211
and Hon. Keith Ashfield, Fisheries Minister: 613-992-1067
and Hon. Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade: 613-995-0183
Canadians, please call the Parliament switchboard toll-free (Canada): 1-866-599-4999 and request to speak to your MP as well. You can also find your MP's contact number here.
Update on the WTO Challenge to Overturn the Ban on Seal Product Imports
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has heard the first round of arguments in the case brought by Canada and Norway to attempt to overturn the EU ban on seal product imports. The WTO heard not only from Canada, Norway, and EU representatives, but third parties also presented their cases. Included among these was the U.S., which argued in favor of keeping the ban on seal product imports. Presenting their arguments against this ban were Japan and Iceland, and presumably Namibia (which presented its arguments in secret).
The second set of hearings is scheduled for April. Then the WTO is expected to issue its decision in the summer or early fall.
Visit harpseals.org to read more about this critical hearing. There you will find a link to a law professor's view on the strength of Canada and Norway's case to overturn the ban.
Thank you for caring.
For the seals,
Diana Marmorstein, Ph.D.
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