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Management Assignment Assessing Harp Seal Management Strategies


Task: How can harp seals numbers are stabilized saving the species from extinction?


This Management Assignment evaluates the plight of harp seals and how the species numbers can be managed and regulated through conservation. Harp seal conservation and protection has attracted considerable attention due to the drastic decline of harp seals numbers in recent years. Harp seals are found across the northern hemisphere where thick sea ice forms. The seals spend most of their lives at sea but females are reliant on the sea ice to breed. Females will climb on the ice and give birth to white coat pups which will remain in the ice for 3-5 weeks before developing a thicker grey coat and entering the sea.

This Management Assignment identified a combination of indiscriminate hunting, habitat destruction and environmental concerns has resulted in a drastic drop in the seal numbers. Aerial surveys performed in Russia in 1960-70 estimated approximately 3 million harp seals but the number has greatly fallen with recent surveys locating approximately a million seals. The major concern with the population has not been the number falling but the reduced number of new harp seal pups being born and raised in the different population. The numbers have constantly been reducing over the years and spotting white coat harp seals has become a rare event (Ambrose 2004).

What Is Causing the Drastic Harp Seals Reduction identified on this Management Assignment?
Harp seals numbers have been falling for several years and now considered to have reached a critical point. The reason behind harp seal number reductions identified on this Management Assignment are controversial with some experts blaming it on hunting for the clothing industry while others claiming the numbers require to be kept in check to increase sea fish numbers. Both arguments are valid and have contributed immensely towards the seal numbers decline (Livernois 2010).

Hunting Harp seals for hides
During the Management Assignment research, Harp seals hides are identified as being highly prized in the clothing and fashion industry resulting in making it a profitable occupation for people in countries where harp seals breed. Harp seals have been hunted in bulk in Russia, Canada and Norway resulting in the drastic reductions in their numbers. This is because harp seals tend to breed on the sea ice and these results in making them particularly venerable to predators and overhunting. The Management Assignment also identified the Harp seal hunting has been ban in most of the nations the seal's breed but the decision is being contested by communities that depend on seal hunting and fishing for a living (Ambrose 2004).

Harp Seals Population Control Theory
The sudden reduction of harp seals numbers has also been linked to the fishing industry whereby the seals have been identified to consume large numbers of sea fish which results in reduced fish production. This has resulted in fishing communities culling the seals to maintain smaller numbers which also help reduce the amount of fish they consume. On this Management Assignment we determine the Fish production is a major industry in certain countries like Canada and Russia where fish are harvested and stored for consumption during leaner months. High numbers of harp seals results in reducing fish production which has adverse effects on food security for coastal communities (Johnston et al. 2012).

Hunting by predators
Harp seals have a low number of predators such as polar bears, beluga whales and sharks. The predators also contribute toward managing the harp seals numbers but affect a small number of the population. Predators are unable to maintain or affect harp seals negatively even with some like the polar bear reliant on the seals for food during the winter months (Hammill & Stenson 2000).

Future Harp Seal Management
With more Management Assignments, reports and studies suggesting harp seals may be facing extinction in the future due to a drastic reduction in female, young and juvenile harp seals, it’s time to consider taking action now (Friedlaender et al. 2010). This can be done in two ways as discussed below:

Natural repopulation
Natural repopulation is the best and most viable approach linked to increasing the numbers of the harp seals. For this to occur it’s important for countries where the harp seals settle breed to put in place strict rule and regulation which forbid the hunting, trapping and killing of the harp seals. This would gradually result in the wild harp seals populations repopulating their natural habitat. The process will take several decades due to the gender and age imbalances which have been created by human hunting and culling but it would gradually balance over time (Dingemanse & Réale 2005).

Selective breeding programs and reintroduction to the wild
The Management Assignment also identifies selective breeding programs as a viable solution that can contribute towards the repopulation of the gender imbalance in the natural population. Selective breeding programs can be specially modified to ensure a selected number of harp seals deliver a predetermined gender of pups which would help speed up the repopulation efforts (Browne et al. 2011).

Addressing the Fish Stock imbalances
While addressing the concern regarding harp seals number reductions, it’s also important to address the fish stock imbalance concerns (Bundy et al. 2009). It is clear that Fish Stocks drastically fall on years when harp seals have flourished, resulting in a serious imbalance and food shortage for coastal communities. For affected governments, it’s important to weigh both humanitarian needs as well as the animal rights to avoid overburdening the other. It is important to observe every aspect linked to the harp seals to ensure both species live together in harmony.

Animal conservation efforts have geared up in the recent past but this has also resulted in raising major concerns regarding human and economic development versus animal life and habitat. Ultimately it’s important to also observe the human point of view since humans are always the priority in every nation. Since human’s development and progress will continue despite other species suffering, approaches linked to reducing the negative effects on animal species can be considered but it’s also important to remember that human progress always comes as a priority to any government or individual (Markovchick-Nicholls et al. 2008). The Management Assignment concludes by prioritizing human needs, and failing to address human needs first would result in undermining our species thus making human needs the priority at all times.

Reference List
Ambrose, P., 2004. Canadian harp seal hunt. Marine Pollution Bulletin Management Assignment, 48, p.1014.

Browne, R.K. et al., 2011. Conservation Breeding Programs. October, 5, pp. 1–14.

Bundy, A. et al., 2009. Seals, cod and forage fish: A comparative exploration of variations in the theme of stock collapse and ecosystem change in four Northwest Atlantic ecosystems. Progress in Oceanography Management Assignment, 81, pp. 188–206.

Dingemanse, N. & Réale, D., 2005. Natural selection and animal personality. Behaviour, 142, pp. 1159–1184.

Friedlaender, A.S., Johnston, D.W. & Halpin, P.N., 2010. Effects of the North Atlantic Oscillation on sea ice breeding habitats of harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus) across the North Atlantic. Progress in Oceanography Management Assignment, 86, pp.261–266.

Hammill, M.O. & Stenson, G.B., 2000. Estimated Prey Consumption by Harp seals (Phoca groenlandica), Hooded seals (Cystophora cristata), Grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) and Harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) in Atlantic Canada. Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science, 26, pp. 1–23.

Johnston, D.W. et al., 2012. The effects of climate change on harp seals (Pagophilus Groenlandicus). PLoS ONE, 7.

Livernois, J., 2010. The economics of ending Canada’s commercial harp seal hunt. Marine Policy, 34, pp. 42–53.

Markovchick-Nicholls, L. et al., 2008. Relationships between human disturbance and wildlife land use in urban habitat fragments. Conservation Biology Management Assignment, 22, pp. 99–109.


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