Mexico Accuses Canada of Unlawful Failure to Protect Seals

The Mexican non-governmental organizations Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental and Conservacion de Mamiferos Marinos de Mexico have submitted a complaint against the government of Canada for the harp seal hunt.

This is the official communication from Commission for Environmental Cooperation:

The Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has charged the Canadian government of failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws with respect to the harp seal hunt that takes place in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and along the Newfoundland and Labrador coast in Canada every year every spring.

Mexico accuses Canada, in particular Fisheries and Oceans Canada of failing to effectively enforce Article 2(1) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the preamble to the Oceans Act by failing to apply the precautionary principle when it sets the annual harp seal hunting quota and when it allowed the quota to be exceeded in four of the past five years. The Submitters also allege that most sealers do not strictly comply with the rules prescribing instruments and methods for killing seals (Articles 28 and 29 of the Marine Mammal Regulations adopted under the federal Fisheries Act. According to Mexico, this shows that the authorities have failed to effectively enforce these provisions and the section of the Criminal Code outlawing cruelty to animals.

The Secretariat of the CEC is analyzing the submission to determine whether it meets the requirements of Article 14 of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation.

The CEC citizen submission mechanism allows citizens to play an active "whistleblower" role in matters relating to environmental law enforcement. Pursuant to NAAEC Article 14, any citizen or non-governmental organization may file a submission with the CEC Secretariat when it believes that a NAFTA partner is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law. After reviewing the submission, the CEC may investigate the matter and publish a factual record of its findings.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has long maintained that the Canadian seal hunt is in violation of the laws of Canada because Canada has consistently refused to enforce its own laws against blatant violations by East Coast sealers.

Click here to learn more about Sea Shepherd's efforts to save the seals of Canada!