Monday, 3 October 2011

Canada plans massive seal cull

Grey seal cull: Canada plans to cull 140,000 seals to protect fisheries September 2011: The Canadian fisheries ministry are promoting a vast cull of grey seals to protect Canadian fisheries that crashed due to huge overfishing but have not recovered. The ministeries report, despite admitting 'scientific uncertainties' recommends a massive cull of seals to protect valuable fish stocks. Wildlife Extra questions this, purely on the logical basis that if the seals rely on the fish to survive, why are the seals thriving despite the fact that fish stocks are so low?


The International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Science Advisor, Dr David Lavigne, and five other marine scientists have sent an open letter to Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans condemning a report by the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC) which calls for a massive cull of grey seals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The open letter was sent to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable Keith Ashfield, on September 26, 2011. In the letter, the scientists describe the Department of Fisheries and Oceans workshop, which informed the FRCC report, as biased and also state that there is no scientific evidence to support a grey seal cull. The scientists recommend that the Minister reject the FRCC recommendation to cull grey seals, and also suggest that a review be done by independent scientists.

Quotes from the Report

Scientific uncertainties

"Scientific uncertainties and societal sensitivities surround the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council killing and discarding of animals solely to reduce their competition with humans for shared natural resources. Seal control programs elsewhere, such as in the Barents Sea, are relatively small. In eastern Canada, we have seal populations at the peak of the exponential phase, so the reductions calculated to be necessary to produce a positive effect on groundfish recovery are very large. In addition, we are subject to intense international scrutiny that has the potential to put established markets for Canadian seafood products at serious risk."

Hypotheis - Seals eat all the fish
"It has been hypothesized since the mid-1990s that predation by seals is the dominant cause of the high rate of natural mortality that has impeded the recovery of many groundfish stocks".

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