tagged w/ Seals
If you've been following the global warming debate over the past few years, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the problems it poses are restricted to the impacts of higher temperatures, sea level rise, extreme weather, and ocean acidification. Unfortunately, we're only just beginning to understand the potential of other more subtle risks and impacts.
The Arctic is the region that has experienced the greatest warming in recent decades and is a unique environment. On the surface, it may appear to be a relatively pristine place that has escaped the touch of man; however, a combination of atmospheric and oceanic circulation has made it a sink for numerous contaminants emitted from industrial activity around the World, particularly Asia. Prevailing ocean and atmospheric circulation cause many of these contaminants to be transported to the Arctic where they can be absorbed by plants and animals, or locked into snow, ice, and permafrost.
A risk to human health?
Indigenous populations in the Arctic, such as the Inuit, are at potential risk from these contaminants due to their reliance on hunting various species for food that may have been exposed to elevated concentrations of contaminants due to their progressive magnification through the food web. For example, algae in lakes may absorb a contaminant during photosynthesis. The algae are a food for small critters, which are then eaten by progressively bigger animals that in turn concentrate the contaminant in their tissue. At the top of the food-chain, human hunters that eat those animals in their regular diet may accumulate those contaminants in their own body tissue, with potential health side effects. Such scenarios exist for the main hunted food sources in the Arctic, including fish, whales, seals and birds.
One such contaminant is mercury, which has received recent attention by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) that published a 2011 Assessment of Mercury in the Arctic (Warning: 36MB PDF download). Mercury poses a particular danger to unborn children during pregnancy, as it can prevent healthy foetal development. AMAP has highlighted studies suggesting that indigenous Arctic populations are being exposed to levels of mercury that exceed World Health Organisation safety levels due to a diet of wild country foods.
The influence of climate change
Environmental changes in the Arctic due to warming are now generating great unknowns as to how food webs in the Arctic will be affected in the coming decades, and whether this will increase the health risks from mercury contamination. SKS'ers may be familiar with the carbon cycle, but the Arctic mercury cycle has just as much complexity and then some (AMAP, 2011). The mercury cycle has links and affinities with the organic carbon cycle, particularly with the formation of methylmercury, which is especially toxic. A store of mercury from human industrial sources has built up in the ice sheets, glaciers and snow fields over the past 200 years. Mercury is mobile in air, water, soil, flora and fauna. As scientists have examined this issue in recent years, the result is an ever increasing picture of complexity.
The Arctic has strong seasonality due to its high latitude, as well as large areas of melting and re-freezing sea ice affecting circulation patterns and biological turnover. Continuous sunlight in summer also allows continuous photosynthesis. All of which play their part in the biological uptake of mercury and its propagation through the food web. The ongoing reduction in summer sea ice extent is expected to have significant effects on mercury cycling and its availability to pass into the food chain.
A recent literature review by Stern et al (2012) elaborates on the impacts and uncertainties of how mercury pollution will be affected by climate change in the Arctic region. Factors considered include: changes in sea ice and snow cover, melting permafrost, and changes in animal behaviour and feeding habits. All of these reactions to Arctic warming will affect the transport of mercury and other contaminants through the environment and food web.
A further mechanism that has been a concern in recent years are Atmospheric Mercury Depletion Events (AMDE), that comprise a rapid oxidation and deposition of mercury from the atmosphere during the onset of Arctic spring; a photochemical reaction that has similarities with the mechanism responsible for the creation of the Ozone Hole. An estimated 243 tonnes of mercury is deposited in the Arctic each year, most of which is due to AMDE, though further photochemical reactions subsequently reduce a large proportion of the deposited mercury which becomes volatile, returning around 80% of it back to the atmosphere.
Warmer temperatures are expected to decrease AMDE deposition, though expanded areas of open sea due to reduced sea ice cover may result in up to 60 tonnes per year of AMDE mercury being absorbed by the ocean. Even this estimate is made uncertain by the possibility of enhanced transfer of mercury from the ocean to the atmosphere due to there being a greater area of open sea in the Summer.
Another result of changes in sea-ice distribution that has been observed is an increase in mercury levels in seals linked to their changing feeding habits as they adapt to the disruption of regular periods of sea-ice cover.
More at the linkIf you've been following the global warming debate over the past few years,... more
Symptoms of a mysterious disease that has killed scores of seals off Alaska and infected walruses are now showing up in polar bears, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said on Friday.
Nine polar bears from the Beaufort Sea region near Barrow were found with patchy hair loss and oozing sores on their skin, similar to conditions found in diseased seals and walruses, the agency said in a statement.
Unlike the sickened seals and walruses, the affected polar bears seem otherwise healthy, said Tony DeGange, chief of the biology office for the USGS's Alaska Science Center. There had been no deaths among polar bears, he said.
The nine affected bears were among the 33 that biologists have captured and sampled while doing routine studies on the Arctic coastline, DeGange said.
Patchy hair loss has been seen before in polar bears, but the high prevalence in those spotted by the researchers and the simultaneous problems in seal and walrus populations elevate the concern, he said.
The USGS is coordinating with agencies studying the other animals to investigate whether there is a link, he said.
"There's a lot we don't know yet, whether we're dealing with something that's different or something that's the same," he said.
The disease outbreak was first noticed last summer. About 60 seals were found dead and another 75 diseased, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Most of the affected seals are ringed seals, but diseased ribbon, bearded and spotted seals were also found.
Several walruses in northwestern Alaska were found with the disease, and some of those died as well, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The diseased seals and walruses, many of them juveniles, had labored breathing and lethargy as well as the bleeding sores, according to the experts. The agencies launched an investigation into the cause of the disease, which has also turned up in bordering areas of Canada and Russia.
Preliminary studies showed that radiation poisoning is not the cause, temporarily ruling out a theory that the animals were sickened by contamination from the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
Spread of the disease among seals continues. A sickened and nearly bald ribbon seal pup was found about a month ago near Yakutat on the Gulf of Alaska coastline, according to the agency. The animal was so sick it had to be euthanized.
All of the afflicted species are dependent on Arctic sea ice and considered vulnerable to seasonal ice loss.
By Yereth Rosen
More at the linkSymptoms of a mysterious disease that has killed scores of seals off Alaska and... more
Los Angeles Times...
Marine biologist indicted for allegedly feeding killer whales
January 5, 2012 | 2:24 pm
A California marine biologist and whale-watching tour operator has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly feeding killer whales in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, in violation of federal wildlife provisions.
Nancy Black, owner and operator of Monterey Bay Whale Watch, was indicted in San Jose federal court Wednesday and charged with violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which bars harming, harassing, feeding and otherwise interfering with marine mammals, including dolphins, sea lions and whales.
The four-count indictment accuses Black of twice feeding killer whales in the marine sanctuary -- once in 2004 and again in 2005.
The indictment also alleges she altered a video showing possible illegal contact with an endangered humpback whale during a whale-watching trip in October 2005, then lied to investigators about doing so.
Black’s tours and research aboard her company’s whale-watching vessels -- the 70-foot Sea Wolf II and the 55-foot Pt. Sur Clipper -- have been featured extensively in local media and appeared on the "Today" show and the "CBS Evening News."
Black’s attorney, Lawrence Biegel, said she was gathering scientific data and broke no laws when she filmed the behavior of killer whales feeding off free-floating pieces of blubber from a gray whale calf.
Black and several assistants, he said, cut a hole in the blubber and used a rope to secure it close to her 22-foot inflatable research dinghy so she could film killer whales with an underwater camera as they approached to eat it.
Calling the indictment “wholly unjustified” and based on a misunderstanding of her techniques and methods, Biegel said she acted within the boundaries of a whale-research permit issued by the federal government and presented the footage to other researchers at a conference in Norway.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the sanctuary spanning 276 miles of California’s Central Coast, first revealed the investigation in 2006 and has had ongoing negotiations with the marine biologist over the charges, Biegel said.
The Monterey Bay Whale Watch website calls Black an expert in the biology of killer whales off the California coast who has a master’s degree in marine science and works to catalog, identify and document their behavior in Monterey Bay.
The website boasts of trips led by experienced marine biologists who “collect valuable data on the marine mammals sighted” and “the most skilled captains who know where to find whales and how to approach them.”
.Los Angeles Times...
Marine biologist indicted for allegedly feeding killer... more
Biologists in Alaska are investigating whether sick seals washed up on the arctic coastline are being killed by radiation from stricken nuclear plant Fukushima.
An increasing number of ring seals have been found dead or injured on Alaska’s beaches since the Fukushima plant was damaged by a tsunami in July 2011. The animals have been suffering from an unidentified illness – initially thought to be a virus – that causes hair-loss and bleeding lesions.
John Kelly – a professor at the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks – said: “We recently received samples of seal tissues from diseased animals captured near St Lawrence island with a request to examine the material for radioactivity.”
“There is concern expressed by some members of the local communities that there may be some relationship to the Fukushima nuclear reactor’s damage.”
Results of the scientists test are not expected to be available for several weeks.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2079317/Seals-damaged-flippers-hair-loss-killed-radiation-Fukushima-plant-biologists-warn.htmlBiologists in Alaska are investigating whether sick seals washed up on the arctic... more
L.A. considers putting zoo operations in private hands
Officials say the change would save nearly $20 million over five years and prevent possible closure. Critics question the savings and say the move could mean less transparency in animal welfare.
Los Angeles Zoo
Photo: Zoo patrons view a pair of Masai giraffes at the Los Angeles Zoo. Two potential private operators have expressed interest in running the zoo. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
July 28, 2011
Someone else may soon be tending to the misty artificial rain forest at the Los Angeles Zoo where Bruno, a 300-pound orangutan with a wispy orange beard and a hulking frame, makes his home.
The city opened the zoo and botanical gardens in 1966, but officials are now considering a proposal to turn over management to a private operator. That means the gardeners, plumbers and other city employees who help run the zoo could be transferred to other departments and replaced with private workers.
Like any issue involving labor — or animals — the fight over the fate of the zoo has caused a considerable stir.
City officials say the change would save nearly $20 million over the next five years and rescue the zoo from possible budget reductions or even closure. But opponents of the plan question the savings and warn that privatization could mean steeper ticket prices for the zoo's 1.5 million annual visitors and less transparency when it comes to animal welfare.
The zoo plan is only the latest example of a shift in how budget-strapped officials think about "core services" and City Hall's basic obligations to taxpayers. They are also considering proposals to privatize the Los Angeles Convention Center, an animal shelter in the San Fernando Valley and several arts facilities.
Such public-private partnerships are common in Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History are two county facilities operated by nonprofit organizations.
"It's not a revolutionary idea," said Miguel Santana, L.A.'s chief administrative officer, who came to City Hall from the county in 2009. "This model has worked across the country as a way of ensuring services are maintained in an era of declining revenues."
According to a draft proposal for the zoo plan, which the City Council's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee will consider Thursday, Bruno and the rest of the animals would remain the property of the city, along with the zoo's Griffith Park grounds.
All current staff would remain employees of the city, but those who do not hold zoo-specific jobs might be transferred to other city departments. Future hires would be employees of the new operator.
Two potential operators have already stepped forward.
One is the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn., or GLAZA, a nonprofit headquartered on the zoo's campus that raises money for the institution, manages its memberships and operates its concessions. In 2010-11, it raised about $13 million for the zoo, according to GLAZA President Connie Morgan
The other party is Parques Reunidos, a Madrid-based theme park operator that runs 70 amusement parks, water parks and zoos worldwide.
Dave Towne, a former consultant for the L.A. Zoo, said that if a private company takes over, the face of the zoo may change. "Any private, for-profit operation is going to Disney-fy it," he said. "That's just what they do."
Towne, former director of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, oversaw the transition of that zoo's management to a nonprofit 10 years ago. He said private operators run the majority of the nation's major zoos and are often more successful at marketing and fundraising than cities, in part because they are less encumbered by bureaucracy.
Animal activists fear that could result in a lack of transparency. Catherine Doyle, of In Defense of Animals, said that if the zoo is privatized, "it will become even more secretive and insular."
She and others have long accused the zoo's management of not being forthcoming about animal care, and have asked that the operator be required to answer to a city-appointed animal welfare commission.
Adriana Hawkins, a zoo gardener for six years, says everyone will suffer if longtime employees are reassigned. The zoo will lose expertise, she said, and the employees will lose jobs they love.
"I don't want to go down to the harbor; I don't want to spend my life on the freeway," Hawkins said. "I have a passion for the zoo."
Santana and others have said that privatizing the zoo will allow it to flourish. A report he commissioned said that under private management, the zoo would be able to reap up to $3.8 million more each year in revenue, thanks to new opportunities for corporate sponsorship, fundraising and special events.
But City Councilman Richard Alarcon said that's all the more reason to keep control of the zoo. "If a private corporation can make it profitable, why can't we?" he said.
It costs $26 million a year to run the zoo and pay the salaries, benefits and pensions of more than 200 employees. The city contributes about $14.6 million; the rest of the budget comes from ticket sales and donations.
Officials say if the city does not privatize management, that figure could grow as high as $19.4 million by 2015. But even if it does complete a deal, the city will still contribute about $13.8 million to the zoo in 2015, according to the proposal.
The savings may be small in the short term, but Santana insists that it adds up. Next year, he and other officials will have to find a way to close a $200-million budget deficit.
.L.A. considers putting zoo operations in private hands
Officials say the change... more
Poor seal, I think it has a blocked nostril. Wouldn't want to sleep next to it though.Poor seal, I think it has a blocked nostril. Wouldn't want to sleep next to it... more
"The bad news: the baby seal hunting season has begun off the coast of Newfoundland. The good news: they're using a more humane technique. They're shaking the baby seals instead of clubbing them." Chris Martin joins People for the Ethical Treatment of Stand-up Comedians at the 9:55 Comedy Club's open mic May 2, 2011. Joshua Saucier is the MC.
http://www.chrismartincomedy.com"The bad news: the baby seal hunting season has begun off the coast of... more
Obama to launch ocean initiative
The stewardship policy embraces a controversial zoning practice that could change how the U.S. regulates drilling, fishing and other maritime activities.
By Jim Tankersley, Tribune Washington Bureau
July 19, 2010
Reporting from Washington
President Obama on Monday is set to create a national stewardship policy for America's oceans and Great Lakes, including a type of zoning that could dramatically rebalance the way government regulates offshore drilling, fishing and other marine activities.
The policy would not create new regulations or immediately alter drilling plans or fisheries management. But White House documents and senior administration officials suggest it would strengthen conservation and ecosystem protection.
The initiative culminates more than a year of work by a federal Ocean Policy Task Force, which Obama established last year. After the task force releases its final recommendations, the president is expected to sign an executive order directing federal agencies to adopt and implement them.
Calling the BP oil spill ravaging the Gulf of Mexico a "stark reminder of how vulnerable our marine environments are," the recommendations center on creating a National Ocean Council to coordinate regulation of oceans and the Great Lakes, and on a principle of "ecosystem-based management" for marine areas.
The council would include top federal scientists and officials from a variety of agencies, including national security experts, environmental regulators and managers of ocean commerce.
The recommendations embrace a controversial practice called marine spatial planning, a zoning process of sorts that seeks to manage waters in the way some cities manage factories and strip malls. The process could result in confining activities such as drilling, shipping and conservation to areas the planners deem best-suited to each use.
Nine regional groups — consisting of state, federal and tribal officials — would draft plans for conservation and use of ocean resources that would have to be approved by the National Ocean Council. Federal agencies have agreed to abide by the plans.
If the Great Lakes regional body designated certain lake areas for offshore wind farms, for example, the Interior Department would agree to approve wind farms only within those areas.
The same would be true for any new offshore drilling projects. Currently, Interior officials develop drilling plans under a public comment process within their department.
In Southern California, the heavy focus on "ecosystem-based management" could cause the U.S. Navy to retool its fleet deployment, with an eye on how its operations affect water quality or whales.
The recommendations do not specify their effect on offshore drilling. Administration officials said the new policy would not prejudge or conflict with future findings of the bipartisan commission Obama had charged with investigating the oil gusher.
But the administration says coordinated, stewardship-heavy ocean management is likely to "really change" practices in nearly every marine activity, drilling included. The final task force report predicts that the changes would help restore fish populations, protect human health and "rationally allow" for ocean uses such as energy production.
"This sets the nation on a path toward much more comprehensive planning to both conservation and sustainable use of [ocean] resources," said a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the policy had not been officially announced.
The first draft of the policy, released in September, drew heavy criticism from some quarters, including industry and recreational anglers concerned that sport fishing might be restricted or banned.
After a deluge of criticism and meetings with fishing and boating groups, the administration modified the recommendations to emphasize the importance of fishing and ocean recreation, calling them "critical to the economic, social and cultural fabric of our country."
The recommendations do not include curbs on recreational fishing. But the mere prospect of marine spatial planning has drawn skepticism from ocean users.
Oil and gas officials are concerned too. They have repeatedly urged the administration not to adopt any planning process that could restrict offshore drilling.
Last fall, for example, a representative of the American Petroleum Institute testified at a task force field hearing, "The oil and natural gas industry's presence in the Gulf [of Mexico] has successfully coexisted with other ocean uses like tourism, fishing, the U.S. military and shipping for many years, demonstrating that the current system of governance works well."
The new plan would emphasize nine areas under the broad banner of marine stewardship and conservation, including improved scientific research and mapping; helping coastal communities adapt to climate change and ocean acidification, particularly in the Arctic; and enhancing water quality on land to boost ocean water quality.
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Timeslatimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-obama-ocean-20100719,0,1686762.story... more
Finland's Lake Saimaa is home to one of the world's rarest seals, the Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis). Just 260 or so of these critically endangered animals remain in the freshwater lake, and now the European Union has told Finland that the country is not doing enough to protect the species.
"We cannot allow rare species to disappear," a spokesperson for the E.U.'s environment commissioner told reporters on Wednesday. "E.U. laws protect them." The E.U.'s Habitats Directive law lists the Saimaa seal as a priority for protection and imposes strict limits on activities such as net-fishing, which might endanger the animals.
Unfortunately, Finland has not followed the rules of the Habitats Directive. And although the species has been legally protected in Finland since 1955, after state-sponsored hunting almost wiped the seals out, the country has taken few recent steps to protect the seals. According to the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Finland's agricultural ministry has so far advocated only voluntary limitations on fishing on Lake Saimaa, despite the fact that the biggest threat to Saimaa ringed seals is drowning in the nets of amateur fishermen.
Finland did pass a commercial net-fishing ban last month, but it covers only 1,550 square kilometers (about 35 percent) of the lake, and three of the 200 fishing districts on the lake refused to sign on to the ban. It also does not cover amateur fishermen, who appear to be the biggest part of the problem.
The E.U. Environmental Commission says there is evidence that "numerous young and adult seals are caught and drown in these nets every year" and that Finland is not doing enough to protect critical breeding sites.
Finland now has two months to come up with a serious rescue plan, possibly involving banning fishing during key breeding months. If the E.U.'s Environmental Commission is not satisfied at that point, it plans to formally take the issue to the European Court of Justice.
Meanwhile, it's not just nets that endanger the seals. Climate change has reduced the amount of ice available to the seals for their dens, making them more visible to fishermen, who, as we wrote last year, sometimes kill them to prevent them from competing for the fishermen's catch. The seals were once considered pests, and according to Metsähallitus, the Finnish natural resources agency, a bounty was paid for killing them from 1882 until 1948.
Luckily, amid all of this, there is some slightly good news about the Saimaa seals: 57 seals were born in this year's spring breeding season, only three of which died shortly after birth. This number is up from 44 pups born in 2009. A minor victory, to be sure, but with just 260 seals remaining, every new birth counts.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=eu-orders-finland-to-protect-critic-2010-05-10Finland's Lake Saimaa is home to one of the world's rarest seals, the Saimaa... more
3 years ago
CHARLOTTETOWN, Canada, March 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- IFAW (The International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) has confirmed with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that a sole sealing vessel has hailed out on the opening day of the commercial harp seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada.
The vessel is reportedly heading to the Northern Gulf – the only area where seals have been observed in the Gulf – to kill the few animals that have managed to survive what has been a disastrous year for harp seal pups.
"After spending the past week watching the few tenacious seal pup survivors clinging to life, it is heartbreaking to realize that they may now be killed," said Sheryl Fink, a senior researcher with IFAW. "On the other hand, I am encouraged that only one boat has decided to go seal killing so far this year."
This year has been the worst ice year on record for the east coast of Canada. The IFAW observation team has been in Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, documenting the ice conditions and few pups that remain. Harp seals need ice for giving birth, nursing and resting, and seal mortality is expected to be very high this year as a result of the poor ice conditions.
"The situation this year is dire, and there is no question that the effect of climate change on these individual animals is devastating. We've seen dead and abandoned pups on beaches, starving pups crying for food and trying to suckle off each other, and whitecoat pups swimming in desperate search of ice on which they can rest," said Fink.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species notes that harp seals are going to be negatively affected by climate change. "Under a precautionary approach, these seal pups should be protected from commercial hunting and given the chance to survive. Instead, Canada is proceeding to kill off any animals that might actually exhibit traits that would allow the species to better contend with climate change," said Fink.
The lack of interest in sealing this year is not only due to the scarcity of seal pups, but also a result of a decreased demand for seal products. Markets for seal pelts appear to remain saturated with prices expected to remain around $15 per skin, down from $104 in 2006. A commercial hunt for grey seals earlier this year failed to occur altogether.
SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare - http://www.ifaw.org
http://www.ifaw.org/ifaw_united_states/media_center/press_releases/3_28_2010_61086.phpCHARLOTTETOWN, Canada, March 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- IFAW (The International... more
End the Seal Hunt | IFAW Web Site
From IFAW's Seal Blog
This post was filed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare's Sheryl Fink, who is currently in P.E.I., Canada observing the worst ice conditions on record and looking for seal survivors.
We have arrived in Prince Edward Island, Canada to look for harp seals and prepare for the 2010 commercial seal hunt. This year is reported to be the worst ice year on record and as we flew into our base in Charlottetown, PEI we confirmed there was virtually no ice in the southern gulf of St. Lawrence. There were just a few small ice pans (about the size of a coffee table) pushed up along the beaches in some areas, but nothing like we usually experience. In normal years, we'll see vast areas of frozen sea ice, and pans large and strong enough to land a helicopter on. Usually, we can walk out on the ice and right up to the baby harp seals that are resting on them -- but not this year. Since harp seals are usually associated with the ice edge, with no ice, we didn't expect to find any seals.
A few days ago, we heard reports of something strange happening. Live whitecoat harp seal pups were being found on the shores of Prince Edward Island. We are heading out this morning by van to see if we can find any animals. Some of our experienced staff here at IFAW have been observing seals and the seal hunt for nearly a decade, and have never actually encountered baby harp seals on land before. This is just one of the elements that will make this year's observation unlike any other. Off to find some land-lubbing seals….
http://www.ifaw.org/ifaw_united_states/join_campaigns/seals/index.phpEnd the Seal Hunt | IFAW Web Site
From IFAW's Seal Blog
This post was filed... more
Canadian Parliament Serving Seal Meat At Lunch In Support Of Hunters
CHARMAINE NORONHA | 03/ 8/10 03:49 PM | AP
TORONTO — The Canadian Parliament's restaurant will serve seal meat this week in support of hunters battling a European Union ban on seal products, a Liberal senator said Monday.
Celine Hervieux-Payette said Wednesday's seal meat lunch menu will allow politicians to demonstrate their backing for the annual hunt.
"All political parties will have the opportunity to demonstrate to the international community the solidarity of the Canadian Parliament behind those who earn a living from the seal hunt," she said in a statement.
The EU ban on seal imports was imposed last July on the grounds that Canada's annual hunt was inhumane.
The East Coast seal hunt, the largest in the world, kills an average of 275,000 harp seals during mid-November to mid-May. The seals are either shot or hit over the head with a spiked club called a hakapik.
Animal rights groups believe the hunt is cruel, poorly monitored and provides little economic benefit. Seal hunters and Canadian authorities say it is sustainable, humane and provides income for isolated communities.
The EU ban includes processed goods derived from seals, including their skins – which are used to make coats, bags and clothing – as well as meat, oil blubber, organs and seal oil, which is used in some omega-3 pills.
It exempts products derived from traditional hunts carried out by Inuit in Canada's Arctic, as well as those from Greenland, Alaska and Russia.
Canada has requested consultations with the EU at the World Trade Organization, which is the first step before launching an official trade challenge to salvage a Canadian industry valued at $10 million Canadian dollars ($9.7 million) in exports last year.Canadian Parliament Serving Seal Meat At Lunch In Support Of Hunters
Is this really a demonstration of solidarity by the Canadian government? It seems more like a political demonstration equal to a sit in that used to happen during the 60's. I'm sure there are better ways to show support towards those who are struggling to keep their jobs.
Besides why do we need to eat seal meat anyway?Is this really a demonstration of solidarity by the Canadian government? It seems... more
Following recent sanctions put in place by the European Union, Canada has launched an "aggressive" campaign to sell seal meats and products in China in the hope that it will be enough to save the Canadian sealing industry.
"China is a huge market," said Gail Shea, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, in a teleconference call from Beijing on Tuesday. "The EU was a small market for Canada and of course we're disappointed in their actions [but] there are many other markets out there."
Ms. Shea has spent the last week in China holding meetings with seal marketing groups, seafood importers, and top Chinese government officials. She also attended the 30th annual China Fur and Leather Fair, where she touted the controversial industry.
Currently, China imports seal pelts and oil capsules equalling "millions of dollars" for the Canadian economy. But the opportunity is there to expand other seal products - specifically, meats and organs - to the Asian superpower, Mr. Shea said.
In July, the majority of the EU's 27-member states gave final approval to a ban on importing seal products. The bill, which comes into effect by the next sealing season in the spring, essentially eliminates all trade of seal product such as pelts, oil and meat. The prohibition will result in a $2.4-million loss for the Canadian industry.
Meanwhile, Ms. Shea said Canada will pursue China as its next big customer of seal products.
The Chinese are relatively unaware of the health aspects of eating seal meat, and it will be up to the Canadian government to provide awareness and promote this new food as an exotic seafood, she said.
Canada also plans on targeting the seafood gift-giving industry in China, and promoting a variety of non-traditional products such as seal pepperoni, sandwich meat and finger foods.
"We're going to have to create a market in China," said Ms. Shea.
"I'm asked why we put so much effort into an industry that doesn't return a big amount of money, but that amount of money means a lot to small communities in Canada and that's why we support the seal hunt, and besides that, this industry has a lot of potential to grow," said Ms. Shea. "We are going to be very aggressive on this because this is very culturally important."Following recent sanctions put in place by the European Union, Canada has launched an... more
This sea lion keeps avoiding capture. Officials believe it is malnourished and dehydrated.
Rescue workers with the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito are trying to corral an injured sea lion at Moss Landing Harbor in Monterey County.
Jim Oswald, a spokesman for the center, says efforts to capture the animal in a net Wednesday and again Thursday afternoon failed with the skittish animal swimming away each time. At least one more attempt is expected Thursday.
Oswald says the sea lion is unable to eat because of an entanglement around its neck and muzzle that needs to be removed.
The animal appears malnourished and dehydrated.
Rescuers believe it is the same sea lion that was reported entangled on San Francisco's Pier 39 on Friday. The animal had swum off before officials from the center arrived the next morning.This sea lion keeps avoiding capture. Officials believe it is malnourished and... more