Fishermen glad anti-seal hunt group staying off ice

The International Fund for Animal Welfare won't be sending observers to the spring seal hunt this year, and P.E.I. fishermen couldn't be happier.

Presence created negative publicity for P.E.I., says fishermen's association

A seal hunter prepares to shoot a grey seal. (Paul Darrow/Reuters)

A group representing P.E.I. fishermen couldn't be happier that the International Fund for Animal Welfare won't be sending observers to the spring seal hunt.

The observers have been coming for 18 years, using P.E.I. as a base during the hunt.

Mike McGeoghegan, president of the PEI Fishermen's Association, said all the group did was create negative publicity for the Island, a province with only about four seal hunters.

"Their war chest must be full up. They just start trouble, bringing up an issue that has always been contentious. There is virtually zero seal hunting on P.E.I. [It's] negative publicity against Prince Edward Island and we don't need that," said McGeoghegan.

And the group is misinformed — there are actually too many seals and something has to be done to correct the problem, he said.

Meanwhile, Sheryl Fink, director of the seal campaign for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said it was time to reallocate resources to where the group thinks it can make a difference.

"Basically we decided to take a step back and focus our cameras — instead of focusing on what is happening on the ice —let's put the focus on the politicians and politics here in Ottawa," said Fink.

"Because, really, I think we are at a point now that what's really keeping the seal hunt alive is not economics. It's not jobs. It's politicians that are keeping the seal hunt alive and that is where we need to work to try to bring it to an end."