[ST. JOHN'S, NL] — The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is providing a loan of up to $3.6 million in a bid to boost this year's commercial harp seal hunt.
Provincial Fisheries Minister Darin King says the money will go to Carino Processing Ltd., a seal products company.
King says the funds will allow Carino to buy seal pelts and blubber to ensure that raw material is available to address market demands if they arise.
King says the money will also give hundreds of seal hunters an income this year.
Ottawa has set a harp seal quota this year of 400,000 despite criticism that the allocation is too high because markets have dried up and the population is suffering due to poor ice conditions.
The federal government has long argued that the hunt is humane, tightly regulated and economically important to coastal communities — assertions that animal welfare groups strongly contest.