2021 Canadian commercial seal hunt begins despite pandemic, public outcry and steep decline in demand
(London - April 08, 2021) – Canada’s commercial seal hunt – reviled by so many across the globe - has officially been declared open with an allowable catch of 400,000 harp seals.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has led a campaign to end the commercial slaughter of seals since 1969, shining a global spotlight on the cruel, unnecessary and unsustainable hunt. While the scale of the hunt has vastly reduced in recent years, IFAW continues to work towards a complete end to the hunt on animal welfare grounds.
The seals are killed primarily for their pelts, for use in the fur and oil industries. They are struck using a traditional club called a hakapik, or shot from boats.
IFAW’s UK Director James Sawyer said: “As IFAW’s founding campaign over 50 years ago, our approach and tactics may have evolved, but our vision has remained the same; to bring an end to the cruel and unnecessary slaughter of baby harp seals in Canada, a practice which is beneath the dignity of such a progressive nation as Canada.”
The 2021 hunt opens against the backdrop of a hugely declining global demand for seal products, international outcry at its cruelty, a late COVID surge in the region of Newfoundland where most of the hunt takes place, and poor ice conditions for ice-breeding seals leading to increased pup mortality.
Due largely to the COVID pandemic, only 440 seals were reported killed in Newfoundland during the entire 2020 commercial hunt, the lowest year for the hunt on record. While in the early 2000s, sealers regularly killed around a third of a million seals a year, the number of seals hunted has been in steep decline over the past 15 years.
Sawyer added: “We are so close to ending this. We continue to urge the government of Canada to stop supporting this dying industry and heed the public outcry to bring an end to the seal hunt once and for all.”
Europe has been a major driving force behind the international pressure against the annual hunt, banning the importation of products from ‘whitecoat’ harp seals and blueback hooded seals in 1983, saving over one million newborn seals from slaughter over the next decade.
In 2009, the European Union took a further step of restricting the placement of all seal products on the market, exempting those hunted by indigenous peoples. When challenged by Canada and Norway, the World Trade Organization (WTO) upheld the EU ban, the first dispute settlement on the basis of public moral concerns over animal welfare. There are now 36 international trade bans on seal products across the globe, which include 27 Member States of the EU. It is estimated that the commercial hunt has decreased by 90% since the European trade bans were first enacted, saving nearly four million seal pups.
To take action to end the Canadian seal hunt, click here.
Watch The Film The Sealing Industry Does Not Want You To See
Huntwatch, a documentary produced by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which explains the genesis of how IFAW got started, and how the organization's founder Brian Davies set out to end the hunting of seals in Canada, is available to download on Amazon, iTunes and Vudu.
Discovery Channel, a co-producer, acquired worldwide rights to the film.
Listen here to Michelle's interview with IFAW's seal super hero Sheryl Fink who has spent 20 years fighting for the rights of seals in Canada.
Animal Abuse Injustice and Defence Society Animal Aid investigate conditions at Atlow rabbit farm in Derbyshire, as public concern grows over planning applications.
Many people would be shocked to learn that rabbits were being farmed for their fur and flesh, confined for hours on end in tiny hutches, unable to freely access grass, on a site in the English countryside. Sadly, an investigation by Animal Aid has shown this to be the case in Atlow Derbyshire.
Investigators were saddened to see rabbits, who appear to have very limited room to move and display their natural behaviours, such as running, foraging, digging and playing. Our investigators never saw rabbits out of their hutches over multiple visits. The hutches containing these inquisitive and gentle animals appear too small for them to even be able to sit upright.
More alarmingly, T&S Nurseries, the company operating on this site, have applied for planning permission for two other sites – in Amersham, Bucks and near Lyndon in Rutland. A recent application in Cornwall was refused. National campaign group Animal Aid and many others, including local groups and individuals, strongly object to the proposals for these two intensive rabbit meat and fur farms. The female rabbits are treated as breeding machines, their babies, weaned and then removed and apparently killed at just 16 weeks old.
‘The very thought of confining female rabbits as breeding machines to have their young repeatedly taken from them is abhorrent.’ Says Tor Bailey, Animal Aid Campaign Manager. In captivity rabbits can live to be 10 years old.
Read more about the investigation here: https://www.animalaid.org.uk/stoprabbitfarms
Rabbits, the associated website, sells items such as hats and scarves made from ‘free-range’ rabbit fur. The fur is sold as a by-product to rabbit meat, exploiting a legal loop-hole. Animal Aid investigators were distressed to see rabbits in barren individual hutches, unable to socialise and with no free access to the outside. This is not what people imagine when told an animal’s life has been ‘free-range’. Rabbits who have very little exercise and are under-stimulated can be hugely damaged, both emotionally and physically. Some rabbits appeared listless and largely unresponsive to the presence of investigators - very concerning in a prey animal.
If you would like to oppose the farms at Rutland & Bucks please see here for more information
Object to the rabbit meat farm in Buckinghamshire here
Object to the rabbit meat farm in Rutland here
Today we take a moment to remember Freddie.
Freddie was first spotted near the Hook of Holland last August, he made his way to France eventually settling in Teddington where he became a joyful sight for Londoners in lockdown.
Freddie was well looked after by humans during his short life, having been treated for heartworm in Calais & later British Divers Marine Life Rescue removed a fishing hook from his mouth.
Last weekend Freddie was fatally wounded by an off lead dog & despite the best efforts of rescuers at South Essex Wildlife Hospital Freddie was put to sleep.
The attack on Freddie is not unique, Dog Desk Radio reported on a Red Setter that attacked a deer in Richmond Park resulting in the deer being put to sleep & the dogs guardian receiving a fine of £602. The dogs guardian was charged under regulation 4 (21) of the Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997 and section 2 of the Parks Regulation (Amendment) Act 1926.
We are engaging with the farming community in regard to sheep worrying, which farmers are saying is getting out of hand this year causing untold suffering to sheep, stress & financial losses to farmers & severe consequences to dogs & their guardians in some incidences. Sheep worrying is an offence under the Dogs (Protection Of Livestock) Act 1953 & an offence for which you as the dogs owner are accountable.
Many dog guardians are thoroughly responsible & ensure that their dogs are well trained & respond well to recall. But we would advise dog guardians to remember that in certain circumstances even the best behaved & well trained dog is capable of losing its focus. For your safety, your dogs safety & the safety of others it is always best to keep your dog on a lead when around grazing animals & wildlife.
During lockdown it is reported that the UK has seen a growth in the dog population which now stands at around 10 million according to a recent PDSA report. Many people forced to work from home have seen it as an opportunity to welcome a puppy while others have sought the solace that a dog brings during an emotionally difficult time for all of us. But has it been the right thing to do?
Socialisation is crucial for pups to ensure that they grow into well balanced measured adults. Lockdown life is not a true reflection of how we live. So what happens to these pups who may never has seen a bicycle, never felt sand under their feet, never played with another dog, never been in a pet store? While some dogs may ace it when confronted with new experiences others will struggle, become fearful & may display behaviours that humans find unacceptable. Many of the dogs guardians have never had a dog in their lives exasperating an already difficult situation which may culminate in attacks on wildlife, other dogs, grazing animals & people.
Dog Desk Animal Action CIC is launching a campaign to encourage dog guardians to keep their dogs on leads & would love your help. Please go to their website here You will find downloadable content for sharing & look out for material on social media. Please share so that we can reach as wide an audience as possible. There will also be regular PSA's on Dog Desk Radio. Please encourage your friends, family & co-workers to tune in. The station carries lots of music shows as well as news, sport & weather.
Social media has been awash with comments regarding Freddie's tragic death. I want to leave you with one, which I think is poignant.
By Michelle Robertson 01/03/2021
Last year I became aware of a gentleman called John Chadwick through his dear friend Dee Bonett.
John, originally from Salford & living in Kent had experienced homelessness & like so many, John's mental health had suffered.
John had two little dogs Theo & Tinkerbell & a Cat called Gizmo. They were his companions, his family & his whole world.
John had to leave his privately rented accommodation & on 6th March 2016 he was separated from his little family as the only property he was offered had a no pets caveat.
If John had turned this property down he would have been considered as making himself intentionally homeless.
I can only imagine the misery John was faced with after being separated from Theo, Tinkerbell & Gizmo. Nobody should have to choose between a roof over their head or their family.
Ten days after saying his forced goodbyes to his dogs & cat John was found to have taken his life.
When I heard about what happened to John I broke down & sobbed. I felt shame for the human race. I wondered what had gone wrong with us to have created a situation that led to a man feeling so devastated & unable to carry on that he took his own life. The situation should never has arisen.
Dee Bonnet has been campaigning to encourage change in John's memory & has been able to persuade Maidstone Council to pilot a scheme which will allow people like John a greater chance to remain with their pets.
Dee continues to work for positive change nationwide. Everything that has been achieved & all that will be achieved will be in John Chadwick's most precious & loving memory.
I will be talking to Dee as the anniversary of John's death approaches. She will be sharing John's story with us, the changes that have been made in Maidstone & her hopes for the future.
Tenant Fees Act Creating "Needless Barrier" To Pet Ownership In Rented Accommodation Say Campaigners.
Campaigners have today called on the Government to amend the Tenant Fees Act (2019), to make it easier for pet owners and landlords to avoid the "devastating impact of no pets clauses."
New research published today by the charity AdvoCATS recommends that pet insurance is added to the list of permitted payments in the Tenant Fees Act, to allow landlords to require pet insurance as a condition for bringing a pet into rented accommodation.
The report, titled "Heads for Tails", finds that "insurance options that include pet damage for both landlords and tenants are few and far between." This is a consequence, according to the report, of restrictions placed on landlords by the Tenant Fees Act, effectively banning landlords from requiring such cover. Director of the insurance firm Alan Boswell Group, Heath Alexander-Bew, called pet damage insurance "the obvious solution."
The report finds that the Tenant Fees Act could be amended by secondary legislation, requiring a simple up/down vote by Parliament.
Responding to the report, Chairman of the Society for Companion Animal Studies, Dr Elizabeth Ormerod, blamed the Tenant Fees Act for many no pets policies implemented by landlords.
The calls come after polling emerged showing a majority of pet-owners (53%) would be willing to take out such a policy at a reasonable price, if it was a condition for a tenancy agreement.
A majority of pet-owners (53%) would be willing to pay for such cover, if required, according to polling conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the Society for Companion Animal Studies. When asked to imagine moving into a rental property with their pet, and being required to have a "specialised pet ownership insurance" as a condition of being able to rent the property, 53% of respondents, including 57% of dog owners and 55% of cat owners, said they would be willing to do so, if priced reasonably.
AdvoCATSeastmids co-founder, Jen Berezai said:
"A business problem requires a business solution: if the problem is the possibility of pet damage, then pet damage insurance answers that problem.
Amending the list of permitted payments under the Tenant Fees Act 2019 would be a simple but highly effective way of increasing the availability of pet-friendly rented accommodation. At present, a needless barrier has been created to pet-ownership in rented accommodation.
AdvoCATS will continue to work with Andrew's campaign for legislative change."
Chairman of the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS), Dr Elizabeth Ormerod said:
"The Tenant Fees Act, by removing the option for landlords to require a pet deposit or have pet damage insurance, resulted in many landlords introducing no pets policies. The consequences are tragic and far-reaching for tenants and their companion animals.
Pet owners find it difficult or impossible to find suitable accommodation; many are forced to choose between having a roof over their heads or keeping the pet that is part of their family. Thousands of animals are being relinquished to shelters. Some people choose to be street homeless with their pets. John Chadwick was lost to suicide. Parliament needs to address this urgently."
Andrew Rosindell M.P. said:
"The Tenant Fees Act of 2019 has clearly been harmful to the cause of greater pet ownership for renters, an issue which has come to a head given the loneliness and self-isolation many have suffered during this pandemic, something which a dog or a cat could really ameliorate.
Amending it to allow for landlords to require insurance as part of the permitted payments, as this report calls for, might only be a start, but it would be a positive start, and I hope the government explores this as an option.
Longer term the Government must look at proposals such as those made in Jasmine's Law to fully embed the right to bring a pet into rented accommodation into legislation."
Director of Alan Boswell Group, Heath Alexander-Bew said:
“It’s good to see Government making positive changes to standard tenancy agreements making consent for pets the default position. We now need to see the Tenant Fees Act amended to allow payments for pet insurance.
Landlords and tenants will need that safety net, so pet damage insurance is the obvious solution to give everyone some peace of mind.”
This World Whale Day, a plea for action to save a critically endangered whale
Birth of 14 calves celebrated, but outlook for North Atlantic right whale is bleak
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=741392
With the planet’s ocean giants in the spotlight for World Whale Day today (Sunday), conservationists are focussing on the plight of the North Atlantic right whale as the species teeters on the brink of extinction.
The estimated population, once in the tens of thousands, now numbers just 360 due to a variety of human-made threats such as entanglement in commercial fishing gear, ship strikes and ocean noise pollution.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and others are working to reduce the threats and achieve greater protection for these critically endangered marine mammals; to increase their numbers in US and Canadian waters and help ensure their future survival.
One recent small ray of hope was the discovery of 14 new, surviving North Atlantic right whale (NARW) calves born this season – the highest number recorded in a single season in five years. With the population so depleted, every new whale birth is celebrated, particularly after severely low birth rates in recent years.
IFAW Marine Campaigner CT Harry said: “The birth of these 14 new whale calves is an encouraging development and one to be celebrated this World Whale Day. However, we must face hard truths at the same time. The challenges faced by these calves and the species as a whole are immense. Without swift, proactive action on multiple fronts, their survival is far from assured.”
IFAW is collaborating with the fishing industry, gear manufacturers and government legislators to find solutions. This includes testing and promoting the development and adoption of ropeless fishing gear technology to reduce the risk of entanglement. IFAW is also calling on US decision-makers to aim higher with legislation to protect these whales from entanglement in outmoded fishing gear.
In addition, IFAW campaigns for maritime regulations to include expansion of existing speed restrictions and altering shipping lanes to reduce vessel strikes. IFAW has assisted in the development of Whale Alert, an app for mariners to avoid potential vessel strikes, and works to educate consumers about safer fishing practices and for the introduction of whale-friendly seafood.
Harry added: “This is one of the most pressing marine conservation challenges of our day. It is our responsibility to ensure this season’s whale calves successfully navigate the ocean, and can do so long into the future along with their own young as well. If human activity has brought the North Atlantic right whale to this critical tipping point, then human proactivity, collaboration and 21st Century innovation can save it.”
Sadly, a 15th new whale calf was reported to have died, having stranded off the coast of Florida last week. This calf showed obvious signs of trauma from a vessel strike and is the first right whale death reported in US waters this year, though the third NARW calf death reported in just 13 months.
The remaining calves have now begun a perilous journey with their pods to feeding grounds off the shores of Cape Cod, US, and up to the Gulf of St Lawrence in Canada, manoeuvring through an industrial waterway dense with shipping traffic and an estimated one million commercial vertical fishing lines. The vast number of threats encountered during this migration can inflict both short and long-term stress, affecting critical growth and reproductive development of right whales, in addition to potential injury and death.
To take action for the North Atlantic right whale click here.
About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) – The International Fund for Animal Welfare is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organizations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at ifaw.org.
"IFAW's Emmy award-winning Sonic Sea film powerfully explains how noise pollution from shipping, industrial activities and military sonar is threatening individual marine animals, their underwater habitats and our ocean planet. We humans have an important role to play in turning the volume down, and possibly preventing the extinction of some of the largest creatures on Earth.
Watch now for a limited time before World Oceans Day, June 8.Produced by NRDC and Imaginary Forces in association with IFAW."
The North Atlantic Right Whale is in trouble with less than 400 of them left. Michelle chats to Patrick Ramage senior director of outreach & collaboration at charity IFAW. She asks Patrick what has decimated the population & they consider what can be done to reverse the decline. Patrick tells Michelle what charity IFAW has been doing to save the species.