An animal rights organisation has released shocking image of baby seals being brutally killed on Canada’s ice floes, as part of the nation’s commercial hunting season - which is believed to mark the largest-scale slaughter of marine mammals on earth.
Photos and footage shot by the Humane Society International (HIS) off the coast of Newfoundland shows the creatures being beaten, as blood from their wounds stains the ice.
According to the organisation, the Canadian government authorises the killing of up to 468,000 harp, hooded and grey seals, many of whom are only three-months-old or younger.
The carcasses will then be used to manufacture fur products, rather than to support Inuit families - which the HIS does not object to.
Representatives from the organisation who are currently on the floes say they have witnessed seals thrashing in pain after being shot, while others were impaled, before being clubbed to death on the deck of a sealer’s boat.
Warning: some readers may find these images distressing
Sir Paul McCartney has leant his voice to the cause, and called on the Canadian government to stop seal hunting.
The former Beatle, who visited the seal nursery with HIS in 2006, said: “Canada's brutal commercial seal hunt has begun, and once again thousands of baby seals will be shot and bludgeoned to make fur products that nobody wants or needs.
“That's why my friends at Humane Society International are once again setting out for the ice floes for the grim task of catching this horror on film.
“As HSI bears witness to this cruelty, I wish them well and hope that this will be the last year that Canada's ice turns red.”
Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International and Canada said this is the 17th year she has witness the event, and said the suffering she has seen in “impossible to forget.”
As the killing occurs offshore, it is hidden from public view, she said, adding “that is why it is so important that HSI is here to film what happens. “
She said: “We saw one baby seal clearly raise her head from the massive pool of blood she lay in. Another was shot and thrashed on the ice only to slip into the blood-slicked water. Still more seal pups were impaled on hooks and dragged onto vessels and then clubbed on deck.
“It is reprehensible that these baby seals are being killed with government financing, even as the largest seal processor in Canada admits to warehousing a stockpile of seal fur.”
“Ending the global trade in seal products is the best hope these pups have and that is why it is so important the European Union maintains its life-saving ban.”
Following a public outcry, in 2009 the EU banned the trade of products produced from commercial seal hunts.
The group is now urging the EU to amend regulations so they comply with international trade requirements, as the global market for seal products continues to shrink.
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