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Canada MPs to dine on seal meat

8 March 10 22:15 GMT

Seal meat is to go on the menu at Canada's parliament to allow members to show their backing for the annual hunt.

A maximum of 270,000 harp seals are killed each year in March and April by gunshot or being hit on the head with a spiked club called a hakapik.

Canadian seal products are the subject of an EU ban on the grounds that the annual east coast seal hunt is cruel.

Ottawa is fighting the ban, saying the seal hunt is sustainable and provides needed income for isolated communities.

Port sauce

"All political parties will have the opportunity to demonstrate to the international community the solidarity of the Canadian Parliament behind those who earn a living from the seal hunt," Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the parliament's restaurant is to offer seal meat hors-d'oeuvre and a main course of seal loin wrapped in double-smoked bacon with a port sauce.

An aide to the senator said seal dishes could be on the menu once a week when in season.

The EU ban was imposed last May after years of campaigning by animal rights activists.

The ban covers seal products including clothing, meat and oil.

It excludes products from traditional hunts by indigenous peoples in Canada, Greenland Russia and Alaska.

Canada's Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said earlier on Monday that there may not be enough ice in the Gulf of St Lawrence this year to support the hunt.

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