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Sale of seal meat to China thwarted by anti-hunt activists: fisheries minister

HALIFAX - A trade agreement to sell Canadian seal meat in China announced more than three years ago has been largely thwarted by animal rights activists, federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea says. Shea announced the deal in January 2011 in Beijing, saying that gaining access to the world's most populous country would breathe new life into an industry crippled that year by a new European ban on seal products. At the time, representatives of the Canadian sealing industry said a cache of seal meat had already been packaged and was ready for shipment to China.

Annual East Coast seal hunt starts amid ongoing court case and trade challenge

HALIFAX - The annual East Coast seal hunt starts Monday against a backdrop of ongoing trade and court challenges in Europe and renewed claims from animal welfare groups that the 400-year-old industry is dead in the water. Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of the Canadian wing of Humane Society International, said on Sunday that only 15 boats have signalled their intention to take part in the hunt, which typically focuses on harp seals off the northeast coast of Newfoundland.

Panama bars importation of wild animals for circuses, shows

Panama City, Mar 28 (EFE).- Animal rights activists in Panama are applauding a decision by the government's ANAM environmental agency to prohibit the importation of wild animals for use in circuses and shows. Though approved last month by ANAM, Resolution 149 was not published until this week. The new regulation "is an enormous joy and one more demonstration that Panama is maturing in the matter of respect, conservation and protection of animals," Karina Bazan, president of the Angels of the Animals Association, told Efe.

Uruguay mulls jail time for animal cruelty

Montevideo, Mar 19 (EFE).- Uruguayan lawmakers are considering a bill that would broaden protections for domestic animals, including the creation of an offense of killing an animal "with cruelty," punishable by up to two years in prison. The aim is to improve animal welfare and "to punish those who make them suffer," one of the authors of the measure, Fitzgerald Cantero, told Efe.

UK animal rights activist convicted in blackmail plot

A British animal rights activist has been found guilty of involvement in a 10-year campaign of intimidation to try to shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences, a major animal testing company. Debbie Vincent, 52, was convicted on Tuesday of being part of a plot by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (Shac) to blackmail suppliers and customers across Europe to force them to stop trading with the Cambridge-based company. Seven members of Shac were jailed for a total of 50 years in 2009 over the conspiracy, after which Vincent became the public face of the group, prosecutors said.

Canadian minister challenges moral basis of European seal product ban

GENEVA - Canada's northern development minister says it was wrong for the World Trade Organization to uphold a European Union ban on seal products based on moral grounds. Leona Aglukkaq says she made that argument today in a presentation to the WTO in Geneva. Canada and Norway are in the process of appealing a landmark WTO dispute-settlement ruling, which concluded that while the ban undermines fair trade, the restrictions can be justified on "public moral concerns" for animal welfare.

Ottawa to argue against EU ban of seal products at international hearing

GENEVA - An international trade organization will hear arguments from Ottawa on Monday in an appeal of a landmark ruling that upheld the European Union's ban on imported seal products. Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said she will argue at the three-day World Trade Organization hearing in Geneva what the Tories have steadfastly defended — that the seal hunt is humane, sustainable and well-regulated. "Any views to the contrary are based on myths, misinformation and misguided emotion," said Aglukkaq said in an opinion editorial released Sunday.

Turkey video shows 'culture of cruelty' but company denies abuse endemic

TORONTO - Disturbing video showing employees of one of the world's leading turkey producers clubbing, kicking and otherwise abusing the hapless birds is evidence of a culture of cruelty and neglect at the factory farm, an animal-rights group said Friday. The company in question, Hybrid Turkeys, said it had suspended four employees and called the abuse depicted in the video an isolated incident. The video was shot at a Hybrid plant in Bright, Ont., by a member of the animal rights group, Mercy for Animals Canada.

Animal abuse: Manitoba man jailed, wife fined, for hoarding 64 dogs

WINNIPEG - A man who crowded 64 dogs into a filthy building on a rural property has been sentenced to jail in one of the worst cases of animal abuse in Manitoba. Peter Chernecki, who is 63, has been sentenced to four months in prison after pleading guilty to charges under the province's Animal Care Act. His wife, Judith, who is 62, has been fined more than $21,500. More than half of the dogs had to be destroyed after they were seized in 2010. Court was told the dogs lived in darkness in a tiny cabin near Gull Lake, the floor covered in straw, mud and excrement.

Newfoundland and Labrador funds campaign to promote seal industry

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Newfoundland and Labrador is funding an awareness campaign aimed at seal industry "misconceptions" ahead of a World Trade Organization appeal — support animal rights groups say is a misuse of public funds. Fisheries Minister Keith Hutchings said Tuesday the province will give $60,000 to the Seals and Sealing Network, an industry group that's leading the campaign. He said it's part of ongoing efforts to support the commercial hunt as hearings for Canada's appeal of a WTO ruling are set for March 17-19 in Geneva.
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