May 22, 2007

Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today introduced bipartisan legislation calling on the Canadian government to stop the commercial hunting of seals.

“This deeply inhumane practice is far beneath the dignity of the people of Canada,” Lantos said. “There is no real good reason to let this needless slaughter continue, and every reason to put it to a stop. We call on the Canadian government to suspend the hunt in the waters off the east coast of Canada now and forever.”

Lantos introduced the resolution, H. Res. 427, with Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT), with whom he co-chairs the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus.

“I am committed to animal welfare because I believe humankind has an obligation to all animals,” Shays said. “I oppose the cruel practice of killing thousands of young seals, as well as the environmental impact of this practice. Some species have become our companions and some play important roles in sensitive ecosystems. It is our duty to protect and care for all of these animals.”

Fishing and sealing industries in Canada continue to justify the hunt on the grounds that the seals in the Northwest Atlantic are preventing the recovery of cod stocks; this contradicts the consensus of the international scientific community that the true cause of cod depletion is actually over-fishing.

Since February 2003, the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans in Canada has allowed the hunting of seal pups as soon as they have begun to molt their white coats at approximately 12 days of age, resulting in the death of nearly one million seals between 2003 and 2006. The killing is mostly conducted by clubbing or by shooting, but veterinary reports conclude that as many as 42 percent of the seals studied were likely skinned while alive, some while conscious.