FFAW Calls on Federal Government to Take Action on Seal Overpopulation
August 28, 2019
ST. JOHN’S, NL – FFAW-Unifor is launching a seal petition across the province this week asking government to address seal overpopulation. For too long, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has remained complacent while evidence mounts that an overpopulation of seals is having a serious impact on important fish species.
“Last week, a DFO scientist attributed the threatened extinction of gulf cod to grey seal overpopulation. We have similar concerns here in Newfoundland and Labrador regarding the impact seals have on fish stocks, particularly their impact on high natural mortality rates. This lack of action is hurting fish harvesters and coastal communities,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.
FFAW-Unifor is pleased with the recent announcement of an Atlantic Seal Task Team to ensure there is more research surrounding seal overpopulation, however it’s critical that this research leads to concrete action.
There are approximately 8 million seals in Atlantic Canada. An adult grey seal can consume approximately two tonnes of prey each year, up to half of which is cod. Harp seals consume more forage fish such as capelin. The amount harvested in the small commercial cod and capelin fisheries pales in comparison to the overwhelming volume potentially consumed as prey by seals.
“Our coastal communities have strong ties to the sustainable seal hunt, which continues to make a significant contribution to the economy in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Managed properly, our province has the opportunity to benefit further from the seal harvest while encouraging a more balanced ecosystem. More can be done to promote this industry and find new markets for seal products. It’s time for the federal government to take a stand,” says Eldred Woodford, President of the Canadian Sealers Association.
Coastal communities depend on healthy ecosystems for survival, and as groundfish recover it is of utmost importance that steps are taken to support a balanced ecosystem and a sustainable seal harvest.
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