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"Group Calls for huge seal harvest"

  (article excerpts here, with GSCS comments interspersed throughout)

Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Feb. 25, 2004 (reprinted online at: http://waterandwoods.net/forum_viewtopic.php?100.3143 )
By Brian Medel / Yarmouth Bureau

Yarmouth, NS - A commercial harvest of grey seals is expected to be proposed for waters off Nova Scotia.
Grey seals, which weigh 350 to 450 kilograms, are hurting cod stock recovery by devouring fish, say fishermen.

(GSCS: Zero evidence supports this conclusion, and the truth may be the complete opposite. The ecological role of seals includes stimulating the production of food for fish. And cod are starving.)

Now the Grey Seal Society is preparing a remedy. "These are not cuddly. . . . These are the tigers and lions of the oceans," said Denny Morrow, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association and chairman of the Grey Seal Society, composed of fishing industry groups....

(GSCS: Tigers and lions, we have belatedly realized, are crucially important for the healthy functioning of their natural ecosystems.)

The Grey Seal Society is proposing a commercial harvest by fishermen....There's never been a seal harvest of any size in Nova Scotia, he said....

(GSCS: History shows that "a seal harvest in Nova Scotia" reduced grey seals to the edge of extinction a half century ago. Is your "Grey Seal Society" really unaware of this?)

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans is sidestepping the issue of seals eating fish, Grey Seal Society members say. "DFO has never seemed to focus on it at all," Mr. Morrow said.

(GSCS: Dear Mr. Morrow: this is only the tip of the iceberg of issues currently being sidestepped by DFO. They are also sidestepping the question of what cod are eating, and the question of what has caused recent declines in plankton production, etc...as well as a direct challenge to their faulty assessment of small pelagic fish biomass on the Scotian Shelf..)

The biggest part of the Scotian Shelf, from the tip of Cape Breton to Halifax, has been under a cod-fishing moratorium for 10 years. "The cod stock in that area has gone down from 20,000 to 25,000 metric tonnes to about 6,000 metric tonnes," Mr. Morrow said. But the DFO continues to ignore the issue "because they just don't want to deal with it."

(GSCS: This looks irresistably to you, perhaps, as if "seal predation" has lowered the Eastern Scotian shelf cod stock. DFO's analysis shows that the big losers in the cod stock today are the larger, adult fish - those individuals too big for seals to normally eat. Big cod just seem to vanish now. It is the unexpected disappearance of this older age group, after cod have outgrown the risk of seal predation, that is driving this fish stock down. DFO knows this, and has detailed the trend with statistics in their recent publications. "Excessive" seal predation, if it occurred, should be driving up the natural mortality rate of small cod...but this is not what's happening, it is natural mortality of large cod that is skyrocketing. And this coincides with large cod on the Eastern Scotian Shelf being in the lowest physical condition ever recorded. It is probably safe to say that "NEVER" have cod in Nova Scotia been so poorly nourished. Are the big cod simply starving to death today? DFO has over four decades of diet data on this particular cod stock that has still not been published. Try asking for that...)

Scientists say seals may affect the recovery of groundfish stocks, "but we don't have the information to understand what really has been going on the eastern Scotian shelf," said Wayne Stobo, DFO senior science manager.

(GSCS: Wrong! DFO does have the information to understand what really has been going on the eastern Scotian shelf. Older fish are increasingly losing condition in every known stock, zooplankton abundance has dropped significantly, even nitrate formation has mysteriously fallen. DFO appears now to be choosing to remain "perplexed" about what is driving these changes. Ocean fertility is falling, and this is a very grave negative development...but one that was not "supposed" to happen. Regarding "scientists say seals may affect the recovery of groundfish stocks," that is correct. But, DFO lacks the gumption to tell the fishing industry what it does not want to hear: that seals may POSITIVELY affect the recovery of the groundfish stocks.)

A senior DFO fishery adviser, Gary Weber, commenting on the society's proposal, said it's "a little premature for us to discuss the proposal because we haven't seen it formally."
"We would like to see how they would carry it out." ....

(GSCS: Uh, huh..."show us what you want to do and we'll rubber-stamp it"? This is from the marine "conservation and protection" specialists, DFO, that Canadian taxpayers fund to the tune of $1.5 billion annually...)


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