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Scientists pan seal cull plan

Scientists pan seal cull plan

Proposal to kill 140,000 animals driven by politics, Dalhousie profs say

By MICHAEL MacDONALD The Canadian Press

A federal advisory panel has urged Ottawa to slaughter about 70 per cent of the grey seals that feed from the Gaspe Peninsula to the east side of Cape Breton. (Eric Wynne / Staff)
A federal advisory panel has urged Ottawa to slaughter about 70 per cent of the grey seals that feed from the Gaspe Peninsula to the east side of Cape Breton. (Eric Wynne / Staff)

Two of Canada’s leading marine biologists and a conservation group say a five-year proposal to slaughter 140,000 grey seals in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence is being driven by politics, not science.

“I don’t support it,” said Hal Whitehead, a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax who specializes in the study of whales. “From what I’ve seen of the rationale, it doesn’t make much sense to me.”

Earlier this month, a federal advisory panel urged Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield to approve the cull, which would result in the killing of 70 per cent of the grey seals that feed in an area that stretches from Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula to the east side of Cape Breton.

The Fisheries Resource Conservation Council, made up of scientists and fishing industry representatives appointed by the minister, said the proposed cull is an experiment that will test indirect scientific evidence suggesting grey seals are impeding the recovery of cod stocks

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