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An anti-sealing protester takes part in a in Halifax rally on March 13, 2010. (PAUL DARROW)
An anti-sealing protester takes part in a in Halifax rally on March 13, 2010. (PAUL DARROW)

Animal rights

Fisheries Minister hikes quota for Atlantic seal hunt Add to ...

Take that PETA!

Gail Shea, the federal Fisheries Minister who was pied by a protester from the animal rights group over Canada's seal hunt, announced Monday that she has increased the total allowable catch for harp seals in the 2010 hunt.

"Our government recognizes the importance of the sealing industry to the people and the economies of Canadian coastal communities," Ms. Shea said in a release. "Ongoing efforts are made to ensure our management decisions include the perspective of our scientists, as well as the input of Canadians in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the North who work and depend on the industry for their livelihood."

The announcement comes less than a week after parliamentarians dined on seal at a special luncheon organized for them at the Parliamentary Restaurant.

The current seal population, which is estimated at 6.9 million, is more than triple what it was in the 1970s, the Fisheries release says. The allowable kill has been increased to 330,000 from 280,000.

Also, the freeze on personal use licences has been lifted. As of today, any "coastal Canadian" will be able to hunt up to six seals.

The January pie incident, at which the protester denounced the "bloody seal hunt," was clearly not enough to deter the minister's defence of the industry.

In fact, low amounts of sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are threatening to significantly reduce this year's hunt.

"Minister Shea may be trying to send a message to the likes of PETA and the EU [which has banned the import of seal products]with this irrelevant quota, but I think they are just making themselves look silly," said Sheryl Fink of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

(Photo: An anti-sealing protester attends a Halifax rally this month. Paul Darrow/Reuters)

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