Two sides per­form del­i­cate dance wait­ing for seal hunt to start

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - tay­ers@cb­post.com BY TOM AY­ERS

SYD­NEY — Seal­ers and anti-seal­ing ac­tivists are per­form­ing a del­i­cate dance try­ing to give away as lit­tle as pos­si­ble while they await the start of the grey seal hunt on Hay Is­land off Cape Bre­ton.

Fish­er­men won’t say who their buyer is or where the seals will be pro­cessed, and ac­tivists with the Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional are stay­ing at a ho­tel in Syd­ney wait­ing for the hunt to pro­ceed so they can doc­u­ment it with video and still photography.

The ac­tivists have a zo­diac boat ready to launch when the hunt goes ahead, but they don’t want the boat pho­tographed be­cause they are wor­ried about in­ter­fer­ence.

They say they have had prob­lems in the past, but have been well treated since arriving in Syd­ney a week ago.

“We’ve been mobbed three times in New­found­land ... we’ve had ve­hi­cles dam­aged,” hu­mane so­ci­ety ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Re­becca Ald­worth said Mon­day.

“That said, this is a great city. I haven’t felt wor­ried at all here.”

Ald­worth said polls and ex­pe­ri­ence show there is a “real di­vide” in Cape Bre­ton on how peo­ple feel about the seal hunt.

She and other so­ci­ety mem­bers said they didn’t ex­pect Syd­ney to be wel­com­ing, but they have re­ceived lo­cal mes­sages of sup­port and are pre­pared to wait out the seal­ers.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment au­tho­rized a grey seal hunt on Hay Is­land start­ing Feb. 8 and end­ing March 15, but fish­er­men have been wait­ing on shore for more than a week.

Seal­ers must give 24 hours no­tice of their in­ten­tion to hunt. They won’t be go­ing out to­day, al­though a spokesman said they hope to go out this week.

Robert Court­ney, pres­i­dent of the North of Smokey Fish­er­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion, said seal­ers are wait­ing for the weather to im­prove and for the buyer to line up trucks for the har­vested seals.

He re­fused to say who the buyer was or where the trucks would go, say­ing the buyer “doesn’t want trou­ble.”

Seal­ers only har­vested 256 grey seals over­all last year, in­clud­ing 200 from Hay Is­land. This year, the gov­ern­ment quota is set at 2,200 grey seals from Hay Is­land.

DFO ad­viser An­drew New­bould said Mon­day the longer fish­er­men wait, the fewer an­i­mals that will be avail­able for the har­vest.

Ald­worth said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment should of­fer fish­er­men $10,000 or $20,000 as a buy­out to stop the seal hunt al­to­gether, but Court­ney dis­missed that idea.

“ What are they sug­gest­ing we do with the seals?” he said. “It’s ridicu­lous. The ocean can’t sus­tain what’s there now. To let the whole herd ... ex­pand at that rate with no har­vest, that’d be sui­cide for the seals.

“Once you get over­pop­u­la­tion there’s a num­ber of things that hap­pen and none of them are good.”

Steve Wad­den - Cape Bre­ton Post

Re­becca Ald­worth, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional, looks out across Syd­ney har­bour, Mon­day. Ald­worth and a crew from the so­ci­ety are stay­ing at a ho­tel in Syd­ney while they await the start of the grey seal hunt on Hay Is­land off Cape Bre­ton.

Sub­mit­ted by Mark Glover - Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional

A nurs­ing seal pup and its mother were pho­tographed by mem­bers of the Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional dur­ing a trip to Hay Is­land off Cape Bre­ton, Wed­nes­day. Mem­bers of the so­ci­ety, who are stay­ing in Syd­ney await­ing the start of the Hay Is­land seal hunt, have been mak­ing reg­u­lar trips to the is­land to doc­u­ment the nurs­ery and the num­ber of seals pop­u­lat­ing the is­land.

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