N.L. seal hunt hit by poor ice, low prices
Last Updated: Thursday, April 8, 2010 | 10:35 AM NT
The annual seal hunt off the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador limped to a slow start Thursday because of low pelt prices and unusually poor ice conditions.
Normally at this time of year Twillingate, on Newfoundland's northeast coast, is bustling with activity, but this year many boats are tied to the community's wharves.
Sea ice formation is the poorest scientists have recorded in decades, meaning sealers face a 12 to 18-hour boat trip north to find seals.
Despite this, some sealers say they will make the trip
"Most everybody would go if they had [seal pelt] buyers, but when you got no buyers only a few guys get to go … and we are a few of the privileged ones who get to go," said sealer Frank Brown, a crew member on Trudy B. Buster.
Brown says the Trudy B. Buster's owners have found a buyer for at least 1,000 pelts.
Other sealers haven't had the same success. For the first spring in 27 years, Twillingate resident Tom Bath is not going sealing. Bath said he'd miss the money he usually makes from the hunt.
"[Crew members] usually clear up somewhere around probably $5,000 for a start, for the summer, so it's a good start," said Bath.
This season's quota is slightly over 380,000 seals, an increase of 50,000 from last year, but it's not expected to be fully taken.
Ice cover lacking
Federal Fisheries department officials say sealers are likely to see conditions they've never seen before. Garry Stenson, the head of DFO's marine mammal section, said that south of the Strait of Belle Isle, between Newfoundland and southern Labrador, there's virtually no ice for seals to have their pups on.
That means seals are going further north than usual to whelp. Some have been spotted having pups as far as Makkovik, northern Labrador.
"We have data going back to the 1950s, and we had never seen seals that far north," said Stenson. "I just suppose it just reflects the ice conditions that we've had over the last 60 years," said Stenson.
He said it's the first time scientists ever have seen seals giving birth north of Groswater Bay on Labrador's coast.
Ice conditions haven't been this poor since DFO started keeping records 40 years ago.
Latest Nfld. & Labrador News Headlines
- MMA fighter teaching skills in Corner Brook
- A man with years of training in mixed martial arts is now passing on his knowledge to local youth in Corner Brook. more »
- Farmers' market starts work to find permanent home
- The St. John's Farmers Market will re-open for the season in a few weeks, while work ramps up to find a new and permanent home. more »
- Wharnsby: Colin Greening rescues Senators
- Forward Colin Greening's dramatic double-overtime winner against the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday night saved the Ottawa Senators from a big series hole, writes CBCSports.ca's Tim Wharnsby. more »
- WAM: An album that blends percussion and cycling
- Jeff Foran is a teacher who took up the RPM Challenge this winter, and produced an album that mixes his passions for cycling and percussion. more »
Top News Headlines
- Unknown remains found on Dellen Millard's farm
- Police searching the farm of Dellen Millard, the 27-year-old charged with first-degree murder after the remains of Ancaster, Ont., man Tim Bosma were discovered, have found other remains on the property, but it's unclear if they are human or animal. more »
- Canadian on EI shut out amid foreign worker influx
- A jobless Canadian IT professional who is collecting employment insurance is upset because he now suspects several recent jobs he applied for went to temporary foreign workers. more »
- Can the Senate fire a senator?
- An expert on parliamentary rules says the Senate has the power to turf a senator from the chamber, as long as a majority approves the expulsion, and as long as there is cause. more »
- Nahlah Ayed: Vote-wary Iranians mull Ahmadinejad's successor
- Iranians go to the polls in less than four weeks to choose a new president. The reform movement is still smarting from its bitter defeat four years ago, but the jockeying for power is no less intense, Nahlah Ayed reports. more »
- Edmonton boy, 2, killed after car hits patio
- A two-year-old boy is dead after a car smashed into a patio at a south Edmonton restaurant Sunday night. more »
- Central Newfoundland digs out from freak snowfall
- Multiple weekend thefts on Ropewalk Lane
- Arts council presents annual awards
- Gros Morne fracking issue causing significant reaction
- Composting project expands in Grand Bank
- Stay clear of flooding sites, mayor says
- Gushue | Why the loss of Ray Guy has meant so much
- Police investigating vehicle accident near Lewisporte
- Fracking may jeopardize Gros Morne UNESCO status