End sealing subsidies and keep DFO conservation programs, say Greens

OTTAWA – The Green Party says the Conservative government
should axe federal subsidies to the commercial seal hunt to find budgetary
savings in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The government has refused
to explain the details of its plans to cut $74 million from the DFO’s budget
over the 2012-2014 fiscal period, but news reports indicate research programs
on management and conservation are on the chopping block.

“Reducing support for research on fish management could be
disastrous and lead to further 90s-style fish stock collapses,” said Green
Party leader Elizabeth May. “Instead of slashing valuable programs, it’s time
to stop throwing taxpayers dollars at the commercial seal hunt. For less money
we now spend propping up this dying industry, we could buy out sealing licenses
and develop sustainable economic alternatives for coastal communities, like
seal watching.“

The landed value of the commercial seal hunt was only $1.3
million in 2010, yet the government spends many times this amount each year in
seal hunt subsidies. This includes Coast Guard icebreaker services, helicopter
and airplane rental for DFO surveying and monitoring, grants to promote seal
products, and pro-sealing lobbying efforts in other countries. Canada has also
launched a costly World Trade Organization challenge against the European
Union, which banned its trade in commercial seal products in 2009. The WTO case
is expected to cost well in excess of $10 million.

The commercial seal hunt closes at midnight on Tueday. Today
and last week, seal hunt observers released shocking
video documentation of countless violations of sealing regulations, confirming that the Canadian government has
continued to ignore concerns about inhumane killing.

“It’s time to stop
wasting money on an industry that has tarnished our international reputation.
If the Conservatives are looking for ways to find budgetary savings, they
should end seal hunt subsidies,” said Green Party deputy leader Georges Laraque.