February 25, 2003, VANCOUVER - Following the news that the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is permitting 975,000 Harp seals to be massacred in Atlantic Canada over the next three years, The Humane Society of Canada has written to Prime Minister Chretien warning him that his government’s ongoing subsidy of the seal hunt will eventually provoke a legal challenge at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Canada is a signatory to this international trade agreement, which prohibit unfair trade subsidies.


"The challenge will come, it is inevitable. And Canada will lose," warns Al Hickey, Western Regional Director for The Humane Society of Canada (HSC). He also warned that Canada is trying to erode protection for seals under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act, a separate initiative that will also trigger a challenge against Canada under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement).


A comprehensive report released last year by the Montreal based Gallon Environmental Newsletter prepared by the Canadian Institute for Business & the Environment (CIBE) which is headed by Gary Gallon estimated that between 1995 - 2002 alone, taxpayers subsidized the Canadian seal hunt to the tune of at least $20 million. The report relied on an extensive search of government documents under the Federal Access to Information Act. A full copy of the report can be obtained by contacting CIBE by phone (514) 369-0230, fax (514) 369-3282 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

HSC Executive Director, Michael O’Sullivan, says tax weary Canadians are fed up with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans mismanagement of marine life and the environment.

"Sealing is an inhumane and wasteful activity that encourages brutality towards animals and people. Sealing isn’t even financially viable and exists because it is supported by tax dollars and through transfer payments received from other provinces. It is an industry that offers no substantive long-term employment to Atlantic Canada," states O’Sullivan.

"Money put into Atlantic Canada should go to long-term employment and growth industries that have a future," suggests O’Sullivan. "Information technology, tourism and the environment are three sectors where governments could offer such things as financial support and retraining programs".

The Humane Society of Canada is tired of the depleted fish stocks being blamed on seals.

The World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization have all agreed that the fishing industry is artificially over subsidized by tax dollars and that there are simply too many vessels using destructive fishing methods catching too many fish. There are about 200 major commercial fisheries around the world, and two thirds of them are in permanent decline. A recent study out of Dalhousie University concluded that it takes commercial fishing operations 15 years to wipe out 80% of a fishing area's abundance.

"The Atlantic cod fishery was one of the most productive in the world, and should have lasted for decades. The collapse of this vital industry put over 60,000 people out of work. Seals are not to blame. This was human greed and stupidity plain and simple," he said.

Several years ago, a report by the federal Auditor General warned that Canada’s shellfish industry was headed towards a collapse. Unbelievable as it may seems, the department’s civil servants claim that they are lawyers and scientists and take no responsibility whatsoever for the social and economic impacts of their recommendations and decisions. The Humane Society of Canada believes that the only solution is dismantling the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and having another federal agency given a renewed mandate to protect Canada’s oceans and marine life.

"Surveys consistently show that 9 out of 10 Canadians support the protection and not the killing of wildlife," says O’Sullivan. "It’s time to stop the killing and the mismanagement. And it’s time for politicians and civil servants to pay attention to Canadians who pay for everything and who in return receive nothing but unrepentant contempt, incompetence and arrogance. Canadians and wildlife deserve respect and compassion, and they simply aren’t getting it".

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at www.humanesociety.com via twitter at www.twitter.com/HSCanada and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Humane-Society-of-Canada/211468055538280

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. We carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres, and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

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