Canada mulls plan to cull seals to save cod
The study options include reducing the seal population by killing the animals or injecting females with contraceptives.
Sat, May 29, 2010 at 11:24 AM
GRAY SEALS: Canada has faced criticism for allowing seal hunts off its coasts but says the animals are not endangered and that it is part of the country's tradition. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
Canada is studying a plan to either kill 220,000 gray seals off its Atlantic coast or sterilize 16,000 female seals to save declining cod and other fish stocks, according to government documents.
The study obtained by AFP said options include a five-year effort to reduce the seal population either by killing the animals or injecting females with contraceptives in the area around Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia.
The report prepared for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and first obtained by the Halifax newspaper The Coast estimates the gray seal population is around 300,000 strong.
But Mark Butler of the Ecology Action Center in Halifax criticized the options.
"If we start to kill seals to save cod, we would have to continue for centuries since fishing has been decimated by natural predators" such as sharks, he said. "It's a vicious cycle."
Canada's Environment Minister Jim Prentice recently announced plans to create a national park on the island, which also has wild horses and 300 species of birds.
The seal kill plan could deal a blow to the island by bringing in vehicles, workers and equipment. And any seals killed would likely be incinerated to avoid dumping their carcasses in the water.
Gus Van Helvoort, a spokesman for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, told AFP that no decision had been made on any plan.
Canada has faced criticism for allowing seal hunts off its coasts but says the animals are not endangered and that it is part of the country's tradition.
Copyright 2010 AFP Global Edition