October 23, 2012
Senate committee wants seal cull to save cod
By Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter
OTTAWA — A Senate committee wants to put some seal in your meal as part of a kill program to save Atlantic cod.
The committee acknowledges the "ecological, political and economic" risks that come with culling 70,000 grey seals over four years in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, but says it's the best way to preserve dwindling groundfish stocks.
The fisheries and oceans committee held hearings over several months and listened to many witnesses about the pros and cons of thinning out herds.
"Our committee believes a targeted removal program of grey seals is necessary at this time to preserve remaining fish stocks," Sen. Elizabeth Hubley of P.E.I. said.
Among its recommendations, the committee calls on Health Canada to promote the cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acid-rich seal oil and explore the idea of including seal oil in the next version of the Canada Food Guide.
It also wants monitors on hand to ensure seals are dispatched in a humane way.
Not everyone is on board with the committee's plan.
Liberal Sen. Mac Harb of Ottawa said his committee colleagues are wrongly blaming "marine mammals" for gobbling up cod.
He said overfishing is to blame and that cod stocks are on the rise despite an increase in seal populations, including more than 104,000 in the cull area.
"Science in this country will be once again put on the back burner as political games are played with Canada's oceans management policies," he said.
"And the domestic and international outcry will further erode Canada's reputation as a responsible steward of our oceans," he said about those in Canada and Europe opposed to seal hunts, seal food and seal apparel.