Grey Seal Cull

A plan to help the cod recover in Eastern Canada proposes killing some grey seals. As many as 140 thousand of them. And the proposed cull of 70-percent of Grey Seals in Eastern Canada has some marine biologists charging that politics is drowning science in yet another chapter in the controversy over Cod Stocks.

Part Two of The Current

Grey Seal Cull

We started this segment with a clip from Denis Longuepee. He's the President of the Seal Hunters Association on the Magdalen Islands, Quebec. He and many other people who fish the Gulf of St. Lawrence are delighted to learn of a proposed cull on the grey seal.

In September a federal advisory panel for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans recommended a 5-year cull on 70 per cent of the grey seals between Quebec's Gaspe Peninsula and Cape Breton. It would be an experiment to see if fewer seals would mean more cod. Federal scientists say they've never seen the southern Gulf cod population so low.

The grey seal population on the other hand has exploded in the past 50 years and its estimated there are 350,000 of them in the Gulf. The proposal to cull the seals is now with the Fisheries Minister. The ministry says "any future decision will ensure the health and sustainability of both the cod and seal populations."

Some people are skeptical of the link between cod and seals. Debbie Mackenzie is the chair of the Grey Seal Conservation Society in Halifax. We aired a clip. And Debbie Mackenzie isn't the only one fighting what she believes is unfair treatment of the grey seal. Some of Canada's leading marine biologists say the cull has more to do with politics than science and that the grey seal is just a convenient scapegoat for the fishing industry.

For more on the proposed cull, we were joined by Gerard Chidley. He is a fisherman and the chair of the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council - which submitted the report. He was in Renews, a small fishing town on the southern shore of Newfoundland. And Hal Whitehead is a marine biologist and professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He was one of five marine scientists who sent an open letter to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans condemning the proposed cull.

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