Recommendation 1

That the Department of Fisheries and Oceans continue to identify recovery targets and timelines, and limit reference points in accordance with the existing precautionary approach framework, for all depleted fish stocks, starting in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Recommendation 2

That the Department of Fisheries and Oceans coordinate and participate in a scientific research agenda to address the knowledge gaps identified by witnesses during this study, in order to address unique situations such as those that prevails on Sable Island and Hay Island. These gaps include the percentage of cod in the seal diet, the seals’ range on the Eastern Scotian Shelf, and the application of alternative management methods.

Recommendation 3

That starting with the 2013 season and for a period of four years, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans implement and manage a grey seal targeted removal program in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence to reduce the level of the herd by 70,000 animals; and, that this program, based on the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council’s report entitled “Towards Recovered and Sustainable Groundfish Fisheries in Eastern Canada”, work in conjunction with continuing research and evaluation which should lead to a long term sustainable management plan of grey seals in Atlantic Canada and Quebec;

That research protocols to be performed during the removal of grey seals be established to test the hypothesis that predation is the major factor preventing recovery of groundfish stocks in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, as well as to better understand and monitor the effects of the target removal; and,

That Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials appear before the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans at the earliest opportunity after the first harvesting season to report on the progress made with the grey seal targeted removal program.

Recommendation 4

That the harvest of grey seals be performed by qualified and trained seal harvesters under the monitoring of at-sea observers in a manner respectful of established humane harvesting protocols; and,

That adequate and fair compensation, the level of which yet to be determined, be provided to seal harvesters for each dispatched animal.

Recommendation 5

That the Department of Fisheries and Oceans support a long term sustainable grey seal harvest on the East Coast of Canada by:

  • Auditing all sealing activities ensuring that all protocols, humane and ethical harvest practices, and general “best practices” in management are being adhered to;
  • Playing a role of primary scientific advisor to the industry; and,

That the Government of Canada and its agencies promote grey seal-derived products and develop domestic and international markets for them.

Recommendation 6

That the Government of Canada (Health Canada) provide information regarding possible health benefits of omega-3 fatty acid-rich seal oil particularly as they relate to cardiovascular health; and continue research and explore the possibility of including seal oil into the next iteration of the Canada Food Guide.

Recommendation 7

That the Government of Canada re-assess the various options for the sustainable management of the grey seal herd on Sable Island and other areas of the Eastern Scotian Shelf.

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