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Canada's 2008 annual commercial seal hunt in the Gulf of St Lawrence and around Newfoundland, Quebec and Nova Scotia began on March 28. The hunting season lasts from mid-November to mid-May, but the hunt mainly occurs in March and April. Canada's seal hunt is the world's largest hunt for marine mammals. It is cruel and that it ravages the seal population.
The total allowable catch for 2008 is set by the Canadian government to 275,000 harp seals, 8,200 hooded seals and 12,000 grey seals.
The Canadian government has issued 'regulations' which 'supposedly' makes the seal hunt more humane: A new rule in the Marine Mammal Regulations for 2008, require hunters to slit the seal's main arteries under its flippers, after clubbing or shooting a seal.
LOCATIONS and QUOTA:
The hunt in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence started on Friday March 28, 2008. A handful of sealing vessels set out before dawn from the Magdalen Islands. In the first hour of the hunt, 15 seals were killed. The ice had made it hard for the 16 vessels, carrying roughly 100 hunters, to get near the seals.
Per March 30, about 1000 had been killed. On March 30, the hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, opened for the people from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Per April 18, Sealers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence had taken about half of their total allowable catch (TAC) of 51,500 seals.
The biggest part of the 2008 Canadian seal hunt takes place off Newfoundland and Labrador, known as the Front. Per April 18, sealers on the Front had taken 56 % of a total 194,000 seals allowed to be taken in the area. Per April 18, longliners on the Front had taken ca 79 % of their TAC of 112,000 seals. Small boats on the Front had taken 27 % of their TAC of 71,000 seals.
(Above image: Field of Sorrow: All in a days work? An ice float after a day of sealing.)
Most of the seals that are hunted, are young harp seals, called beaters.. They were whelped (born) in February or early March in whelping patches on the ice. Such patches vary from 20 to 200 square kilometres, and may contain as many as 2,000 adult females per square kilometre. The pups are abandoned by their mothers at two weeks of age, and remain in the whelping patches until the ice starts to melt in March or early April. The hunt takes place in and around these whelping patches.