Canadian conservative MP for West Nova, CPC, Greg Kerr recently proposed Private Member’s Bill C-555, which seeks to modify the minimum distance that unauthorized persons or unlicensed observers must keep from those slaughtering seals. Bill C-555 will change the safety distance from a half nautical mile to a full nautical mile (900m to 1.85km).
Kerr claims the bill will protect both the hunters and observers, and help the seal harvesters perform their job without “fear of disruption.” He said that “[s]ealers put their lives on the line each time they step on the ice. I presented Bill C-555 in order to put in place better protections for all those involved in the seal hunt.”
Animal activists who oppose the bill say that this is an attempt by the Canadian government to suppress those who advocate against the annual seal hunt. This is a “nuisance bill,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International Canada. “We are there to document and record what happens, not to obstruct [the seal hunt], and the Canadian government is well aware of that.” Aldworth says that “[i]n the 15 years that I’ve observed the commercial seal hunt at close range I have never once heard of or seen a sealer threatened by an observer in any way, shape, or form. But I have seen countless instances where sealers have attacked observers.”
Director of Wildlife Campaigns in Canada, for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Sheryl Fink says that “Bill C-555 is yet another way for Canadian politicians to claim they are supporting sealers…while doing absolutely nothing of consequence. At best, it is unnecessary legislation and a waste of government resources. It would not affect licensed observers, including those from IFAW.”
According to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the “Canadian commercial seal ‘hunt’ is the largest mass slaughter of marine mammals in the world. Canada intends to kill over 325,000 seals this spring with an additional 10,000 harp seal quota for an aboriginal allowance.”
“The Canadian government looks for as many avenues as possible to profit from their annual, government-subsidized slaughter. Currently, Canada exports the following products: sealskins (furskins/pelts and leather), seal oil and seal meat. Unfortunately, due to a revised fashion trend, the demand for seal pelts has sky-rocketed, especially in Europe,” said Sea Shepherd.
Similar to the “ag-gag” laws that are gaining momentum in the United States, where it is now illegal for journalists and undercover investigators to photograph, or to obtain video footage of the inside of slaughterhouses, the Canadian government is trying to hide the unnecessary and barbaric practices of the seal hunt, from being exposed to the world.
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