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Maritime sealers lose market for pelts  

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | 3:57 PM NT  CBC News

Anti-sealing activists are on standby, awaiting definitive word that a seal hunt off Cape Breton is cancelled.

Members of Humane Society International intended to observe and document the grey seal hunt on Hay Island.

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) hasn't closed the hunt, but sealers learned Tuesday that they don't have a buyer for their pelts.

"I think it is highly significant," said Mark Glover, director of the Humane Society International-U.K.

"There is a demand for these products around the world…. If we can close down the market for these products, obviously you take away the motivation for them being killed, and that's certainly part of our plan."

Nearly 30 sealers from Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island expected to start the harvest last week.

As they waited for the weather to improve, they found out the seal processing co-op in Newfoundland won't buy their pelts because the co-op lost its market in Norway.

Sealers like Robert Courtney were counting on the extra money.

"If you can go out for a week or part of two weeks and make a couple of thousand dollars at that time of the year, it means a lot," Courtney said.

DFO had approved the harvest of 2,200 grey seals on Hay Island, a provincially protected area off Louisbourg.

There are an estimated 300,000 grey seals in the region.

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