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Thirty-nine men have signed up for the hunt, but only 20 are allowed on the small island at one time, he said.
The hunt was scheduled to begin today, but the sealers were still in the process of getting vehicles and equipment ready and didn’t anticipate a start until midweek.
An anti-sealing organization plans to film the hunt and distribute the images to encourage a tourism boycott, a spokeswoman said.
Bridget Curran of the Atlantic Canadian Anti-Sealing Coalition observed the hunt in 2008, when Hay Island first was opened for commercial sealing.
Sealers are prohibited from using guns on the small island, so they use clubs to kill the seals. Curran said she saw sealers herd the animals into a group before killing them, a practice that has been condemned as inhumane by agencies such as the European Food Safety Authority, Curran said.
“ What I witnessed on Hay Island was the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Last fall, the coalition disrupted a legislature session to protest the Dexter government’s decision to allow the Hay Island seal hunt.
The island is part of the Scaterie Island wilderness area. The province had to amend the Wilderness Areas Protection Act to allow the hunt.
Ecotourism activities such as seal watching would stimulate the economy more so than the seal hunt, Curran said.
Last week, the coalition asked Sterling Belliveau, the provincial minister of fisheries and the environment, to cancel the hunt, but he refused, she said.
Curran said changing the wilderness protection law sets a dangerous precedent.
“That land belongs to all Nova Scotians. It’s part of our heritage and our culture. I think it’s abysmal that the government handed over our land to commercial industry just to buy the votes of Nova Scotia fishermen.”