OTTAWA (AFP) — Environmental groups on Saturday condemned Canada's decision to boost its annual quota for seal hunting, warning that with an expected European ban on any seal products the increase makes little sense.
The Canadian government authorized Friday the hike in seal killing to 280,000 on the Atlantic seaboard, amounting to around a third of the number killed annually worldwide.
The figure is up 5,000 from a year earlier, and up 10,000 from 2007. The new quota is still 55,000 less than in 2006.
"This quota flies in the face of the best available science and common sense," said Rebecca Aldworth, director of the Canadian branch of Humane Society International.
"The last time Canada allowed this many seals to be killed, the harp seal population was reduced by as much as two thirds within a decade," she said in a statement.
"At a time when the Canadian government should be taking action to preserve harp seals, it instead seems determined to wipe them out."
Canada is home to the world's largest annual commercial seal hunt.
According to European animal rights group Equanimal, over 40 percent of the seals killed last year were still alive when they were skinned.
Equanimal has said it wants to pressure the European Parliament on the issue, as it is due to decide next month whether to impose a complete ban on seal products in the 27-member bloc.
The new quota for the "dangerous, dead-end industry" that is the seal hunt is "completely indefensible," according to Sheryl Fink, senior researcher at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
"It's not supported by markets, it's not supported by the DFO's (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) own management plan, and it's certainly not going to be supported by the majority of Canadians," she said.
"There are no markets for seal products, and with a potential European-wide ban on the horizon, no signs that the economic outlook is going to improve anytime soon."
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