The Humane Society of the United States condemned the recent announcement by Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans of its intention to place more restrictions on legal and peaceful observation of the commercial seal hunt in 2007. The HSUS believes the move is an attempt to conceal the cruelty of the seal hunt in the wake of closing global markets for seal products.
"The DFO knows, as we do, that the recent images of the commercial seal hunt have convinced foreign governments to ban their trade in seal products," said Rebecca Aldworth, hunt observer and director of Canadian wildlife issues for The HSUS. "It is no coincidence that this latest attempt to block observation of the seal hunt follows on the heels of resolutions in the European Union and German Parliament to ban seal products."
Canadian lawyers argue the attempts to block observation of the commercial seal hunt violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canadian criminal lawyer Clayton Ruby said, "Canada's oceans belong to all Canadians. If there is no one there to observe, Canadians can be kept in the dark and unaware of the cruelty of this savage hunt. This is a clear and disturbing example of Government affording more rights to industry than to citizens. Regardless of where they stand on the issue of sealing, Canadians need to consider very seriously how such a precedent could affect them."
Over the years, the Canadian government has placed a number of unconstitutional restrictions on observation of the commercial seal hunt. These restrictions, including maintaining a ten meter distance from sealers, apply only to observers, not seal hunters. For example, earlier this year observers traveling with the HSUS
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