No Cameras Permitted

By on March 27, 2008 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

I am heartsick about what’s about to occur in Canada—the slaughter of baby seals that is set to start tomorrow. But I am grateful for the presence of Nigel Barker and my HSUS colleagues who are there to document what occurs and to broadcast the images to the world. And I am especially grateful that our community of animal protection supporters—now millions strong—is focused on the task of ending this slaughter and participating with us in a campaign to achieve that end.

I’ve asked Rebecca Aldworth, our director of Canadian wildlife issues and a native of a rural community in Newfoundland, to offer first-hand dispatches on my blog for the next few days. Here’s her first report.

Rebecca Aldworth visits the harp seal nursery
© Marcus Gyger
Rebecca, on a March 25 visit to the harp seal nursery.

Today brings unbelievable news.

Twelve sealing vessels have already left the Magdalen Islands, and many more are gearing up to go later today so they can be in position to kill baby seals when the hunt opens half an hour before dawn tomorrow. Yet at this time—less than 16 hours before the seal hunt will begin—the Canadian government is refusing to issue observation permits for tomorrow morning to anyone, including journalists.

They say that heavy ice is causing problems for the vessels, and they cannot guarantee the sealers will reach the seals by the time the hunt is opened. But as things stand right now, if the vessels do reach the seals—and there is a good chance they will—the hunt will go on without witnesses. Which is exactly what the Canadian government wants.

Observation of the commercial seal hunt is guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And in the 10 years I have documented this slaughter, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has never refused to issue permits based on the idea that sealers “might not be sealing.” From where we stand, this is yet another desperate attempt on behalf of the DFO to block observation and documentation of the commercial seal hunt.

Harp seal pup
© Marcus Gyger
Pups like this one are targets of Canada’s seal hunt.

Notably, even as the DFO is refusing to allow observers to document the seal hunt, Canadian media is reporting that yet another delegation of sealing industry lobbyists have been sent to Europe by the Canadian government to try to ensure the EU does not ban the seal product trade.

The Canadian government has tried to tell the world the hunt is going to be more humane this year. The fact that they are already trying to stop journalists from filming it is a strong indication they know exactly how cruel this hunt will be.

To know that in just hours the pups we saw two days ago will be clubbed, shot, and skinned for their fur without witnesses is almost too much to bear.

Humane Society International, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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