Thursday, March 02, 2006


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’


Anonymous Anonymous said...

During their recent visit to Canada, the McCartneys engaged in illegal activities, but compassionate Canadian authorities will not charge the 2 clueless folks from England

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McCartneys won't be charged
Singer and wife illegally touched harp seal pup

Graeme Hamilton, National Post, Saturday, March 04, 2006

Federal fisheries officers have decided against charging former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney and his wife even though their petting and poking of a seal pup off the Magdalen Islands on Thursday was technically illegal.

Canada's Marine Mammal Regulations state: "No person shall disturb a marine mammal except when fishing for marine mammals under the authority of these regulations."

Photographs show Sir Paul and his wife, Heather, patting a white-coated seal pup as they visited the ice floes to protest against the Canadian seal hunt. At one point, the pup took exception to Mrs. McCartney's caresses and snapped at her.

Roger Simon, area director for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in the Magdalen Islands, said the offence was so minor it does not warrant taking the couple to court.

"It's almost like saying you're going 51 kilometres in a 50-kilometre zone," Mr. Simon said.

"If a fishery officer had been present, something like a warning would have probably been issued, saying, 'Well, if these pups are still nursing, we suggest that you don't pet them -- just watch them.' "

A court would have to be shown that the seal had been harmed by the pop star and his wife, Mr. Simon said, and research has shown casual interaction with humans does no lasting damage to young seals.

"She may have bothered [the pup] but I don't think she harmed him," he said, adding that Canada has better uses of its tax dollars than a McCartney trial.

"When disturbance is of such a minor nature, you wouldn't bring someone to court on something like this," he said. "Somebody would say that the Canadian government and the Canadian taxpayers must have better things to do than haul Paul McCartney into court because he touched a seal."

Mr. Simon said Mrs. McCartney was fortunate it was a harp seal pup she stroked and not a grey seal. "The pup you saw yesterday that snapped doesn't even have any teeth," he said. "A grey seal would probably still be grabbing on to her nose. They're a bigger, more vicious animal."

After 20 years working with seals, Mr. Simon has seen a lot of celebrities come and go. "Last year we had MacGyver [televison actor Richard Dean Anderson], we had Loretta Swift [Hot Lips Houlihan from television's M*A*S*H*] one year. One year we had Bobby Kennedy, Jr.," he said. But he was particularly unimpressed with Sir Paul's understanding of the seal hunt. He expected the ex-Beatle would be out of his league in his televised debate with Danny Williams, the Newfoundland Premier.

"Poor Paul, in a debate, would be hard-pressed because he doesn't know very much about the subject," Mr. Simon said. As an example, he noted that Sir Paul suggested to local reporters that the seal hunt be replaced by whale-watching tours. "We're surrounded by ice, and this isn't a whale area. This is where whales pass but never stop, so it wasn't very well-documented or researched," Mr. Simon said.

He called Sir Paul's seal-hunt knowledge "a crash-course, HSUS brainwashing thing." The HSUS is the Humane Society of the United States, which organized the McCartneys' visit.


Prohibitions (7)

No person shall disturb a marine mammal except when fishing for marine mammals under the authority of these regulations.

12:18 AM  

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