Tell Govt of Nova Scotia to protect grey seals

The Nova Scotia Minister of Environment has authorized a commercial hunt of grey seals to occur on Hay Island again this year. The slaughter is set to begin on February 2 and will run until March 14, 2009.

Hay Island, part of the Scaterie Island Protected Wilderness Area in Cape Breton, was the scene of a horrific mass slaughter last year when Nova Scotia fishermen armed with crude wooden bats and boxcutters descended on the island and within just a few short days had bludgeoned to death 1,261 grey seal pups just a few weeks old. The slaughter on Hay Island marked the first time the killing of grey seal pups in Nova Scotia was witnessed and documented by a third party. Humane Society International and Atlantic Canadian Anti-Sealing Coalition were present on the island and distributed to the public videotape evidence of the cruelty involved in the grey seal hunt.

In just a few days, that horrific scene will be repeated, and defenceless grey seal pups in the provincially-held Protected Wilderness Area will be savagely bludgeoned to death with clubs by a crowd of untrained fishermen who bitterly blame the seals for the sad state of fish stocks.

Last year, the Nova Scotian government claimed that seals must be killed to protect fish stocks in waters surrounding Hay Island. However, DFO's own scientists say there is no direct evidence that seals negatively impact cod stocks, and they simply do not know if reducing seal populations will aid in cod recovery.  Seals eat a variety of fish, most of which are not commercially fished in Canada. Cod accounts for only 2% of their diet. In fact, seals eat predators of cod, which is beneficial to cod, not detrimental.

Last year sealers were allowed to kill up to 2,500 pups on Hay Island, when there were actually only approximately 1,300 pups alive on the island at the beginning of the hunt.  Hunting methods used last year were recently deemed to be inhumane by experts.  DFO advises that the same methods will be used this year.

Please take a moment to urge Nova Scotia's Environment Minister to reverse his decision and to protect the grey seal herd on Hay Island and other protected areas.

I am appalled by your decision to allow fishermen to once again violate Hay Island and kill defenceless grey seal pups in their nursery grounds this year.

Last year untrained fishermen descended on Hay Island armed with crude wooden bats and boxcutters where they slaughtered 1,261 seal pups in an extremely cruel manner using methods condemned by international experts.

Hay Island is a protected wilderness area and you have a duty to respect this land, which the government holds in trust for the people of Nova Scotia, and a duty to protect all life on the land.

There is no scientific evidence that seals are responsible for the collapse of fish stocks or their failure to rebound. Even DFO's own scientists say there is no direct evidence that seals negatively impact cod stocks, and they simply do not know if reducing seal populations will aid in cod recovery.

I urge you to reconsider your decision, examine your conscience and do the right thing - protect the grey seals of Hay Island.

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