The premiers of Nunavut and Newfoundland and Labrador called on the federal government Tuesday to ban the use of long, hooked clubs that they say threatens the seal industry.
"What we have decided to do today, jointly, is write the government of Canada to impose a ban on the hakapik on a permanent basis," Newfoundland and Labrador's Danny Williams said at a news briefing with Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik in St. John's.
Williams and Okalik described the hakapik, which is primarily used by sealers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, as the single biggest image problem for the Canadian seal hunt.
Okalik said the move to ban the hakapik is an attempt to sway the European Union from banning seal products in an upcoming vote in June.
Okalik told reporters that the image of sealers using the hakapik is used continually by activists campaigning against the hunt, even though a minority of sealers use it.
Okalik said some of the European parliamentarians he has spoken with have told him that if Canada gets rid of the hakapik, they will not support a ban on Canadian seal products.
Williams raised his opposition to the hakapik in 2006, citing the "visual image" that the weapon gives opponents of the hunt.
Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn said at that time that he was open to considering a ban, but he could not see clear alternatives.
Most of the seals killed each year in Canada are taken off the coast of Newfoundland, where hunters use rifles.