FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, June 13th, 2022
The above picture of a seal hunting caplin was taken in June/July 2019 in King's Point, Green Bay by Brandon Batstone.
Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is calling on the province’s six Liberal Members of Parliament to vote for a bill before Parliament Wednesday (July 15th) that would force Fisheries and Oceans to implement seal management plans.
“This is one of those make-or-break moments for our Members of Parliament when they must decide whether they represent Newfoundland and Labrador in Ottawa or the other way around,” says Ryan Cleary, Executive Director of SEA-NL, and a former NDP MP. “Seals eat fish just as surely as MPs need votes.”
Bill C-251 calls on the federal minister of Fisheries and Oceans to develop management plans for pinnipeds — including seals, sea lions, and walruses on the East and West coasts and Northern Canada.
The province’s lone Opposition MP, Conservative Clifford Small (Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame), is behind the private members’ bill — support for which from the province’s six Liberal MPs (including cabinet ministers Seamus O’Regan, and Gudie Hutchings) is reportedly “questionable.”
That’s despite the fact Small has said publicly he’s open to amendments to the legislation, which also includes yearly pinniped censuses, addressing trade barriers to the sale of seal products, and the use of anti-predator mechanisms around fishing grounds.
In May, the report of a federal seal science task force recommended that fish stock rebuilding plans in Atlantic Canada include the impact of seals, a recommendation first made 32 years ago by the Leslie Harris report on the state of the northern cod stock.
In response to the task team report, federal Fisheries and Oceans Minster Joyce Murray acknowledged that “seals eat fish,” with DFO planning a seal summit in St. John’s for this coming fall.
The harp seal population alone off Eastern Canada increased to an estimated 7.6 million in 2019 — the largest North Atlantic harp seal population in recorded history — from about two million animals in the 1970s.
SEA-NL is a non-profit organization that represents the province’s licensed, independent, inshore owner-operator fish harvesters.