The Legault government opens the door to the seal hunt on Brion Island

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The Legault government announced last Friday the issuance of the decree aimed at modifying the limits of the “ecological reserve” of Île-Brion, located approximately 15 kilometers northeast of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. This modification will facilitate the winter hunting of gray seals, a very abundant species in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

According to what the Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks specified, the modification consists of removing from the limits of the ecological reserve an area located to the southwest, mainly made up of two larger sandy beaches, where there are seals.

“This change in designation makes it possible to maintain the protection of threatened or vulnerable floral species as well as wetlands sensitive to human disturbance,” assures the ministry, recalling that the ecological reserve has existed since 1988.

Quebec has, however, developed measures which now make it possible to authorize winter hunting of gray seals, a request repeated for several years by hunters from the Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

You should know that the island can accommodate up to 10,000 of these pinnipeds. Their abundant presence even attracts white sharks to the area. Hunting under “scientific” supervision has already been authorized there in recent years, in particular to verify the effectiveness of slaughter methods.

According to the most recent estimates from the federal government, there are no fewer than 365,000 gray seals in eastern Canada, a region that includes the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In this context, the species could support hunting pressure of several thousand individuals each year.

This form of “control” of the abundance of gray seals is all the more important, according to the findings of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as the species has become a formidable predator in the St. Lawrence. According to a study carried out in particular by federal government researchers, this marine mammal which can weigh more than 600 pounds as an adult even risks eradicating cod in the southern Gulf in the coming years.

It is also possible that it represents a threat to other species of interest for commercial fishing, including lobster.

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