Senate committee recommends seal cull in Gulf of St. Lawrence
A female grey seal moves over thin ice near the shore in Canso, N.S. on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Tuesday, October 23, 2012 3:51PM EDT
OTTAWA - A Senate committee says Ottawa should approve a cull of 70,000 seals over four years in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence in a controversial bid to help the recovery of cod stocks.
The committee has spent almost a year studying a federal proposal to slaughter 70 per cent of the grey seals in the area, a plan critics say has been driven by politics, not science.
Acting Fisheries Minister Gail Shea is under pressure from the fishing industry to do something about the stalled cod recovery in the Gulf, where there's indirect scientific evidence suggesting hungry grey seals are to blame.
The cod in the area are on the verge of disappearing even though large-scale commercial fishing has been banned there since the early 1990s.
However, leading biologists and animal welfare groups have condemned the proposal, saying there's no scientific evidence to suggest a cull would work.
A group of scientists at Dalhousie University in Halifax issued an open letter last year that said a cull could produce unintended consequences, including further depletion of the cod stocks.