Heather and Paul McCartney
will visit the harp seal nursery on the ice floes off Canada’s East Coast, on 3 & 4 March 2006, to observe beautiful, pure white newborn harp seal pups, sentenced to death by the Canadian seal hunt.
Only weeks after their visit many of these same animals will be clubbed to death as part of the annual slaughter, the largest marine mammal hunt on the planet.
Heather and Paul will be calling on the new Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to stop this brutal commercial hunt.
The trip will highlight the work of UK campaign group Respect for Animals, which is calling on the UK government to ban the import of all seal products into the UK, and the Humane Society International.
Over the last three years almost one million seals have been slaughtered, 97% of them under three months of age, most of them only a few weeks old. A 2001 independent veterinarian report concluded that 42% of seals examined were likely still conscious when skinned. The pups’ skins are used in the fashion industry.
The hunt is now killing as many seal pups as it did in the 1950s and 1960s when the harp seal population was reduced by as much as two thirds. Worldwide public horror at the hunt and Canadian fish boycotts brought about a EU implemented ban on ‘whitecoat’ (newborn seal) products. Today, sealers kill pups as soon as they have moulted – a process that starts at 12 days old – and these slightly older seal skins can and are legally imported into the EU (including the UK).
• A recent opinion poll found that 79% of UK residents believe the hunt should be stopped. And, 73% think there should be a ban on seal products into Britain.
• An Early Day Motion (EDM 237) calling on the UK government ‘to prohibit the import of all seal products into the UK’, has been signed by 183 Members of Parliament (as at 20.2.06)
• Several countries have recently initiated actions to ban the import of seal products, including: Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Greenland, Mexico. A ban has been in place since 1972 in US.
• A 2001 veterinary report concluded that the hunt results in ‘considerable and unacceptable suffering’