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Minister increases seal quota

The Story

Seal pelt prices are up, and Newfoundland's fisheries minister thinks sealers should be allowed to take as many seals as market conditions permit. But his federal counterpart, Robert Thibault, is more cautious even though recent surveys show there are almost five million harp seals in Canadian waters. In this clip from CBC Newfoundland's The Fisheries Broadcast, Thibault introduces a plan under which 975,000 seals can be harvested over the following three years.

Medium: Radio
Program: The Fisheries Broadcast
Broadcast Date: Feb. 3, 2003
Guest(s): Robert Thibault
Host: John Murphy
Duration: 6:28

Did You know?

• Seal pelts fetched on average $75 each in the 2002 season, which was the best price in about 50 years. The high pelt price was an incentive for sealers to take as many seals as possible.
• The take in 2002 was over 300,000 seals. Good sealing weather contributed to the high number.
• About 10,000 Newfoundlanders held sealers' licences in 2002; approximately 5,000 to 6,000 participated in the hunt that year.

• The Globe and Mail reported in April 2003 that federal fisheries ministers were contemplating allowing a west coast seal hunt. Supporters said fish stocks were under threat and that a west coast hunt would benefit aboriginal communities.
• Also in 2003, the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council advocated the creation of "seal exclusion zones" to allow cod to spawn in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It said seals would stay away once a few were killed in a given area.

• Shortly after being elected leader of the federal NDP in 2003, Jack Layton hired Rick Smith as his chief of staff. Layton was forced to reconsider when labour leaders complained about Smith's previous job with the International Fund for Animal Welfare and his well-known opposition to the seal hunt.
• While some on the political left oppose the seal hunt on humanitarian and environmental grounds, others support it because it employs thousands of workers.

• In the 2013 season, seal pelts fetched an average $32.50 each, and approximately 94,000 harp seals were harvested.  Over 13,000 licenses were issued to Newfoundlanders, but only about 975 were active.



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