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Cathy Kangas

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The Canadian Government Should Ban Seal Hunting, Not Make it Easier

Posted: 10/15/2013 6:51 pm

The Canadian seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals in the world. Since 2002, more than 2 million seals, most less than three months of age, have been brutally clubbed and shot to death on the ice floes of Canada.

Now it has come to light that owners of a California-based company have been charged with conspiracy to commit a number of acts related to smuggling Canadian seal oil into the United States, including allegedly illegally marketing more than 3.4 million seal oil capsules to customers in the U.S., Canada and Vietnam. These are criminal actions under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, which strictly prohibits trade in marine mammal products.

An investigation by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration alleges that the husband-and-wife owners of UBF Group worked with a Chinese company for the import of seal oil caplets falsely labeled as fish oil. Customs declarations reportedly were also altered. The accused couple face penalties of up to 60 months in federal prison per violation, a potential seven-figure fine and forfeiture of all property used in or to facilitate this crime.

Humane Society International's Canada Executive Director Rebecca Aldworth said: "The U.S. market has been closed to seal products for four decades, despite the efforts of some disreputable companies to circumvent the law. We are grateful that NOAA treated this matter seriously and that the U.S. Attorney's Office has laid these charges against the accused. This case should serve as a warning to other companies that smuggling seal products into the United States, or any other region that has prohibited seal product trade, is a major offense that carries significant penalties."

I have campaigned against the Canadian seal hunt for 10 years. In 2006, I offered the Canadian government $16 million to shut down the hunt immediately. Despite the fact that my offer received international publicity, the Canadians refused to even contemplate the proposal.

I have been in touch with Canadian fishermen who no longer want to endure the dangerous conditions of the hunt and would like their government to consider a buy back of their licenses. They realize that they are part of a dying industry as the market for seal pelts has closed around the world. However, the Canadian government refuses to buy out the industry, instead choosing to heavily subsidize the seal hunt.

There are now fewer markets for seal products, as the European Union, Mexico, Taiwan, and the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus have all joined the United States in banning this trade.

The owners of UBF Group should be aggressively investigated, and, if warranted, prosecuted to the full extent of the law. In doing so, the U.S. will send a strong message to Canada that it's time to put an end to the inhumane seal hunt.

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  • A cape fur seal at Cape Cross in Namibia.

  • In this frame grab from video provided on Thursday July 4, 2013 by Earth Conservation, shows seals being clubbed to death on the coast of Namibia in 2011. Earthrace Conservations says Namibia and Canada are the only two countries that allow seal culls. The group says Namibia argues that culls are necessary to protect its fishing industry.

  • Next: The Canadian Seal Hunt (GRAPHIC)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    Seal hunters use a hakapik, a club used for killing seals, to kill a seal near their boat in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence March 31, 2008 near Charlottetown, Canada. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    Seal hunters skin harp seals on an ice floe March 30, 2001 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Newsmakers)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    The bodies of harp seals, roughly twenty days old, lie on an ice floe March 27, 2001 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Newsmakers)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    The carcass of a harp seal, roughly twenty days old, lies on an ice floe March 30, 2001 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Newsmakers)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    The carcass of a harp seal, roughly twenty days old, lies on an ice floe March 30, 2001 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Newsmakers)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    The carcass of a harp seal, roughly twenty days old, lies on an ice floe March 30, 2001 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Newsmakers)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    Seal hunters carry dead seals in their boat in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence March 31, 2008 near Charlottetown, Canada. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    A policeman tries to remove female animal-rights activist Ashley Fruno (R), covered with a body-painting to look like the Canadian flag, during her one-woman anti-sealing protest by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) outside the Canadian embassy in Tokyo on March 24, 2010. (TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    Animal rights activists, Sir Paul McCartney(R) and then-wife Heather Mills McCartney get up close to a seal pup during a venture onto the ice floes of the Gulf of St-Lawrence before the start of the 2006 seal hunting season in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. (DAVID BOILY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    Members of the organization for the defense of animals AnimalNaturalis protest naked and painted as bloody seals to protest the seal hunt in Canada on March 15, 2010. (Getty)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    Members of the organization for the defense of animals AnimalNaturalis protest naked and painted as bloody seals to protest against the seal hunt in Canada on March 15, 2010. (Getty)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    Inuit hunter Pitseolak Alainga (L) explains how the Inuit traditionally hunt seal to Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty outside the Nunavut Legislature in Iqaluit, Canada, February 6, 2010. (GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    An animal-rights activist holds a baseball bat as he stands next to a person wearing a seal costume during a protest against the killing of seals in Canada on March 29, 2010 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    An animal-rights activist wears a mask depicting the face of a seal during a protest against the killing of seals in Canada on March 29, 2010 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    People protest in front of the Canadian Consulates, on March 25, 2009 in Nice, south eastern France, to protest against the seal hunt in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in Canada. (VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    Having recently returned from a trip out to the ice floes to collect seal heart valves for scientific research, local butcher and seal hunter, Rejean Vigneau (R) and AN employee (L) prepare seal meat in his meat shop on March 25, 2008 in the Magdalen Islands of Quebec, Canada. (DAVID BOILY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Canadian Seal Hunt

    The Grim Reaper clubs a mock seal to death during a protest by the animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animlas) in Hong Kong, 21 April 2006. (MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)

 
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