By Mark Clayton, writer of The Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor
Backed up by a newly released gruesome video, animal-rights activists charge that Canada's seal hunt off the coast of Newfoundland - the world's largest marine mammal hunt - is cruel and "out of control."
Contrary to government pledges that the hunt is "humane, well regulated, sustainable, and free from waste," the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) says it has proof the opposite is true.
"The government claims of what is going on out there are obviously untrue," says Arthur Cady, an IFAW spokesman in Ottawa. "Experts that looked at this tape say it shows the hunt is cruel and that laws to protect animals aren't being enforced." Gap between theory and practice Government regulations today require that "no person shall attempt to kill a marine mammal except in a manner that is designed to kill it quickly." Yet the IFAW video of the 1996 hunt released Monday shows live seals being hooked with sharpened boat hooks, others shot and left to die on the ice, and another skinned alive, to name a few illegal practices. In all, the 10-hour video, shot aboard four different vessels by undercover activists for the IFAW, showed 144 apparent violations of government regulations. The activists told the hunters they were shooting a video for a US hunting program. Even some defenders of the hunt were surprised by the video. "There were things in that video that I wish I didn't have to see and that I wish never happened," says Tina Fagan, executive director of the Canadian Sealers' Association in St. John's, Newfoundland. "There were some scenes where obvious aspects of cruelty are involved. We don't condone or support that. But this is not representative of the hunt overall," she says. David Bevan, director general of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Ottawa, agrees. …