Four sealers are facing a total of 17 charges of breaking the rules of the seal hunt during 2007, CBC News has learned.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said the incidents that led to charges occurred in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

DFO is not releasing the names of the sealers.

DFO official Jerry Walsh said seven of the charges involve the use of improper instruments for harvesting seals.

"Ten charges are for not complying with another section of the marine mammal regulations, which is basically administering a blink reflex test after a seal is shot," Walsh told CBC News.

Walsh would not say what the sealers used to kill the animals, and he would not comment on how DFO found out about the incidents.

Dwight Spence, a member of the Canadian Sealers Association, said the blink reflex test is not worth the paper it's printed on.

"If you shoot a seal, usually a lot of the time the head is blown off of it. So where's the eyes to, right?" Spence said.

"They're covered with blood, so you don't see them anyway. You know, it's only a farce."
Spence, who met with DFO officials in Montreal in March, said he believes the government may drop the blink reflex test by next year.

If convicted, the sealers could face fines, possibly in the range of $100,000, Walsh said.