Subject: Canada seal hunt set to resume (fwd)

Mike Williamson (pita@www1.wheelock.edu)
Tue, 24 Mar 1998 13:19:33 -0500 (EST)

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                      J. Michael Williamson
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                   Associate Professor-Science
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 20 Mar 98 13:30:00 GMT 
From: r.mallon1@genie.geis.com
To: marmam@uvvm.uvic.ca, pita@whale.simmons.edu
Subject: Canada seal hunt set to resume

Canada seal hunt set to resume amid protests

    By Robert Melnbardis
     MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canada's controversial annual seal hunt
is poised to begin, with sealers launching a publicity campaign
to battle traditional protests against the spring cull on the
ice floes off the Atlantic coast.
     Depending on weather and ice conditions, the seal hunt will
start in the Gulf of St. Lawrence next week and continue just
off the east coast of Newfoundland. The hunt will end when
sealers reach the Canadian government-set quota of 275,000
seals.
     The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said it was
expecting more than 1,000 people at an anti-seal hunt rally in
Ottawa Friday outside the national convention of the ruling
Liberal Party.
     "We're going to have the largest rally against the
commercial seal hunt in Canada's history," Rick Smith, IFAW's
Canadian director, said Thursday.
     Other protesters planned to picket the electoral district
office of Fisheries Minister David Anderson in Victoria, British
Columbia on Canada's West Coast.
     In Paris, a delayed Air France flight forced French screen
legend and longtime animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot to
cancel her trip to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Thursday.
     She had been scheduled to join Greenpeace founder Paul
Watson and his Sea Shepherd conservation group to protest the
hunt.
     Bardot, who took to the wind-swept ice floes 21 years ago to
defend the seals, said she would make it to Canada to protest
next year's hunt.
     In an interview with the French television arm of the
Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Thursday, Bardot said: "You
(Canadians) are people that I find wonderful. Why do you kill
seals? It is something that outrages the world."
     Meanwhile, on the Magdalen Islands -- a sliver of islands in
the Gulf of St. Lawrence that belong to the French-speaking
province of Quebec -- Donald Leblanc, director of the local
Sealers Association, was preparing his boat and hunting gear to
head to the ice floes in about a week.
     Leblanc's family has hunted seals for generations to
supplement a meager income imperiled by the devastation of
Canada's East Coast cod fishery.
     It is a hardscrabble living that Leblanc said has been
misrepresented for years by animal rights advocates such as
Bardot.
     "It's not complicated. We hunt seals because it has an
economic importance that is not at all negligible," Leblanc
told Reuters from the seaside village of Cap-aux-Meules.
     He said that with local unemployment exceeding 20 percent
and little hope of a reopening soon of the commercial cod
fishery, 300 to 800 Magdalen island fishermen depended on the
seal hunt to make ends meet.
     Canadian sealers are hopeful that a new C$170,000 ($121,000)
publicity campaign by the St. John's Newfoundland-based Canadian
Sealers Association will help sway public opinion in favor of
the hunt.
     It includes a 15-minute video unveiled in Britain this week
that aims to convince viewers that a variety of products, from
skin cream to meat, come from the seals culled during the hunt.
     "For the last four or five years, we have been trying to
use the entire seal, the fur, the meat, the oil," said Leblanc.
     But that means hunters incur higher costs than if they
simply took the pelt and left the carcass on the ice. He said
the Canadian government would need to keep subsidizing the
industry until it developed international markets for seal
products.