North

Canadian senator proposes declaration on ethical sealing

A senator from Quebec unveiled a draft universal declaration on ethical seal hunting Thursday, in the hopes of swaying European nations that are poised to ban the trade of seal products from Canada and other sealing nations.

A senator from Quebec unveiled a draft universal declaration on ethical seal hunting Thursday, in the hopes of swaying European nations that are poised to ban the trade of seal products from Canada and other sealing nations.

Sen. Céline Hervieux-Payette released the draft Universal Declaration on the Ethical Harvest of Seals on Thursday, defending seal hunting as a humane, sustainable harvest.

The declaration promotes a balance between ensuring animal welfare, maintaining the well-being of people in sealing communities, and protecting the environment.

"We are asking Europe to help us establish universal ethical practices," Hervieux-Payette stated in a news release.

"Since Europe defends animal welfare, and rightly so, there is no reason for it not to support this declaration. We all care about animal welfare!"

The declaration was written by seven scientists and Canadian sealing proponents, including representatives from the sealing industry.

Peter Irniq, a former commissioner of Nunavut and an Inuit cultural teacher, was also involved in drafting the document.

The draft declaration will be sent to seven sealing nations, including Canada, for their approval. It will then be presented to the EU Parliament and the United Nations.

Proponents of the declaration also plan to launch an awareness campaign to gain support of scientists, hunters, environmental groups and animal protection groups.

McCartney renews call for EU seal ban

The declaration was launched as former Beatle Paul McCartney, a vocal anti-sealing activist, once again called on the European Union to impose a full trade ban on seal products.

In a news release Thursday, Humane Society International said McCartney has added his name to a petition aimed at the politicians.

The pop music superstar said in the release the European politicians should stop the "cruel trade" in seal products.

The parliament is expected to vote in the next several weeks on proposed legislation to ban the import of seal products to its member countries.

"The fate of millions of seal pups is in the hands of elected members of the European Parliament," McCartney stated in the release.

"I've signed the petition to ask MEPs (members of the European parliament) to seize this momentous opportunity to end, once and for all, this trade in animal cruelty."

McCartney and his former wife, Heather Mills, travelled to Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2006 to protest the annual East Coast hunt.

'Forgotten celebrities and activists'

Liberal fisheries critic Gerry Byrne of Newfoundland and Labrador said the draft universal declaration tells the "truth" about Canada's sealing industry, in contrast to anti-sealing campaigns launched by animal-rights groups.

"People who share no real stake in the well-being of our environment, our culture or the future of the ecosystem have attempted to define us falsely for the purposes of fundraising and their own profile. People like forgotten celebrities and activists," Byrne stated in a release.

"But if they care about seals, they will now endorse this document and its principles. In so doing, they will also have to acknowledge that it is not only the way things should happen, it is the way things are happening."

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has set the quota this year at 280,000 harp seals. There are nearly six million seals estimated on Canada's East Coast.

Sealers in many isolated coastal communities throughout Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Nunavut rely on sealing for a significant source of income.

With files from The Canadian Press

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