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Fisheries and Aquaculture
May 29, 2012

The following statement was given today in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Darin King, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture:

2012 Seal Harvest a Success While Demand for Seal Products Increasing

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in this Honourable House to note that while in the face of adversity, this year’s seal harvest has reached almost double the animals harvested last year. Approximately 70,000 seals of the 400,000 Total Allowable Catch have been harvested by 680 sealers operating from 275 sealing enterprises.

This, Mr. Speaker, is great news and I offer my congratulations to the industry on a successful and safe undertaking once again this year.

Even more important to note, Mr. Speaker, that markets are quickly opening in Asia and sales for over 100,000 pelts appear to be achievable.

Also, Mr. Speaker, industry participants advise that new marketing opportunities for seal meat continue to present themselves. The Northeast Coast Sealers Co-op supplied three containers of seal meat to markets nationally and internationally, exceeding their expectations and proving future demand for this product does in fact exist. This is extremely encouraging news.

Mr. Speaker, we stand firmly behind our decision to support the annual seal harvest with a $3.6 million loan to Carino Processing Limited which was intended to kick start the season – and kick start the season it did. We also stand firmly behind the industry as they move forward to identify markets and open new opportunities for seal products. We are confident that the funding the Provincial Government provided will be re-paid in very short order, showing the sealing industry is alive and well!

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that anti-sealing campaigns are filled with misinformation on the harvest. The annual seal harvest is highly regulated and sustainable. The harp seal's population has increased from approximately two million animals to eight million in 40 years. The natural balance of the ocean’s ecosystem has been at risk. Anti-sealing groups display a lack of understanding about good ecosystem management, the industry’s economic importance, and the cultural realities in this province. For example, they still show whitecoat seals in their distribution materials, even though whitecoats haven’t been harvested in decades.

We will not be swayed by the propaganda of such campaigns or that of misinformed followers and celebrities. Mr. Speaker, we are proud to support the seal hunt - a hunt that has provided much benefit to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for centuries - and will continue to do so.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

2012 05 29                            1:50 p.m.

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