Dhaliwal Announces Consultations On Report Of Eminent Panel And Maintains Tac For 2002 Sealing Season

OTTAWA — The Honourable Herb Dhaliwal, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today accepted the final report of the eminent Panel on seal management.

“I would like to thank the members of the Panel for their dedicated work. I know that this is an important issue for many Canadians and this is why I established the Panel,” said Mr. Dhaliwal. “The findings in this report will help us develop seal population management strategies that are based on the best available science and that offer a balanced perspective on seal harvesting.”

“Given that this process will take some time and needs to be done with careful attention, I have decided to maintain the existing management measures for the 2002 sealing season,” said Mr. Dhaliwal. “Since the seal population is healthy and abundant, these management measures should not affect the status of the stock.”

For 2002, the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) will remain at 275,000 animals. The hooded seal TAC will remain at the 1998-2001 level of 10,000 animals. As in the 2001 management plan, a small harvest of grey seals will be allowed in areas other than Sable Island. Also, the licence conditions put in place in 2000 to prohibit the harvest of whitecoats and bluebacks will remain in place.

While the Panel did not provide an optimum population size for the various seal species, it did examine several different management strategies that will be considered carefully by the department. Over the next year, DFO officials will take the necessary time to consult with interested stakeholders to develop a long-term management plan for the following season, based on the findings and recommendations contained in the Seal Panel report.

The mandate of the Panel, established in April 2000 in response to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Fisheries and OceansÂ’ report on seals, included a review of:

  • scientific methodologies for estimating seal populations;
  • scientific methodologies for estimating the total magnitude of the hunt;
  • the current state of knowledge about the diet of seals and the impact of seal consumption on cod and other commercial fish stocks; and,
  • the optimum size of the harp seal population in terms of its interaction with the ecosystem and commercial fish stocks.

Members of the Panel included:

  • Dr. Ian Mclaren as Chair, currently President of the Sable Island Preservation Trust;
  • Professor John Harwood, Scientist at the Sea Mammal Research Unit of the University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom;
  • Mr. David Vardy, currently Chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Newfoundland; and
  • Dr. Solange Brault, Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

The PanelÂ’s report is available on the departmental website at http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/seal-phoque/reports/index.htm

Heather Bala
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Ottawa
(613) 996-0076
Myriam Brochu
Manager, Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Ottawa
(613) 998-1530