Opponents of seal-culling 'are terrorists'

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Animal welfare groups and MPs were branded "terrorists" by Canada yesterday for urging supermarkets to block the sale of the country's fish products following a resumption of large-scale seal-clubbing.

Terry Blocksidge, spokesman for the High Commission, said the call was "a form of terrorism. It would be a sad day for the supermarkets if they collapsed to this type of blackmail. It would be tantamount to a return to secondary picketing."

More than 100 MPs from all parties are expected to sign an Early Day Motion expressing "deep revulsion" over the cull and calling on the main supermarket chains to stop selling Canadian fish products.

MPs saw a video yesterday, the first obtained for 20 years, showing fishermen clubbing and shooting seals.

Tens of thousands of baby seals will be killed after the decision to subsidise slaughter of up to 250,000 animals. Ottawa says it is necessary in order to allow cod stocks to re-establish. The Grand Banks fishery was closed in 1992 for many species, including cod, after years of over- fishing. Canada says seals are preventing the fishery from regenerating. Animal welfare groups say subsidised clubbing is a job-creation scheme for people laid off when the Grand Banks was closed.

Sainsbury's, Kwik Save, and the Co-Op said that they were not planning to block the sale of Canadian fish products in their stores. Tesco declined to comment.