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Thursday, September 22, 2005

What Motivates Seal Hunt Protest Groups?

In an effort to stop Atlantic Canada’s annual seal hunt, sealing protest groups are using the tactic of pressuring restaraunts in the U.S. into boycotting Canadian seafood products. We all hear sporadic news reports on the efforts of seal protests but how much do we really understand about what these groups doing, and what is the truth behind the hunt itself?

If you visit the web sites of the multitude of protest groups out there such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Paul Watson's Sea Shepard Society, or for that matter even the American SPCA, the first thing you will notice is that these groups are blatently mis-leading the public on the topic of the Atlantic seal hunt.

They insist on displaying pictures of baby white coat seals, they talk about hunters skinning animals alive and some refer to seal hunters as barbarians. This may play well in areas around the world where people do not know the truth, but not in many parts of Atlantic Canada and most assuredly not in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The truth is that white coat baby seals have not been hunted for decades and sealers are not savages who enjoy torturing animals. Granted, there may be an isolated number of "idiots" out there who could care less about the cruelity they inflict, but this is true of any place in the world and in any industry. It is not the norm. The average sealer is just like you and me, with one exception. They are trying to make a living in a much tougher and much more dangerous line of work than many of us could even dream of.

One only has to visit the web sites of these groups to see a possible motive for dispensing with reality and spreading hatred. Money. All of these sites, without exception, have links where the gullible can donate. One site I visited actually had over 15 such links on its front page.

The fact is that these groups are actually making more from the annual Atlantic seal hunt than the sealers themselves. Take for example the $77.5 million U.S. the International Fund For Animal Welfare raised last year and it’s easy to see the benefits seal huntinig actually bring to protest groups. Fund raising, not protection of species is often their prime objective. It might be very enlightening if groups who use the March seal hunt as there annual fund raiser were placed under microscopic investigation to see how much money they really make from it and exactly how that money is spent.

If these groups were truly interested in protecting a species, why not fight to protect overfished cod stocks which are truly on the brink of extinction? The answer is simple. Even though seal populations are quite strong, they are far cuter than the lowly cod fish. Who among us would dig deep into their pockets seeing a picture cod fish, but a doe eyed baby seal, now that’s a different story.

Atlantic cod stocks are nearly depleated, due in part to overfishing both in Canada and abroad, but also due to the voracious appetite of seals. The current seal population is larger than it has been in decades and these predators, make no mistake, they are predators, love fish.

Recently Paul Watson of the Sea Shepard Society publicly stated that seals actually eat very little cod, instead they prey on species that eat the cod. According to Mr. Watson, by leaving the seals alone, cod stocks would be increased.

One thing Mr. Watson never mentioned however is exactly what these other predatory species are. Could it be that he didn’t say what these species are because he can't. What exactly is eating the cod and are the seals really eating these predators? Does he expect people to believe that seals are eating sharks or maybe it’s whales they’re. For his sake I hope it isn’t the latter because if it is, how will he ever protect both the seals and the whales?

A few years back a video was shot by a local resident in one of the bays in Newfoundland. This video clearly showed seals herding thousands of cod into the bay and savagely ripping their bellies out. Because the video was not shot by an “Official” source, it was completely disregarded by protest groups.

In a way Mr. Watson is right about seals not eating a great deal of cod. They usually just feed on the soft underbelly of the fish, unfortunately once the belly is ripped out, the cod doesn’t just swim happily away. Unfortunately as well, the belly alone does little to satiate a full grown seal so after killing the first, it simply moves on to the next cod and the next and the next.

If these groups really wanted to stop seal hunting, rather than using the current tactic of trying to force restaraunts to boycott Canadian fish products, maybe they should try to stop overfishing in Atlantic waters. If fish stocks came back to a viable level, fishers might not need to hunt as many seals to augment their incomes. Instead of taking this type of approach however, they would rather paint sealers as barbarians who love to go to the ice and massacre poor baby seals. Is this even rational?

Who in their right mind would believe that people are going out to the hunt and risking their lives under the coldest, harshest conditions imaginable, simply for the fun of it. Life on the ice flows is perhaps one of the most dangerous there is. Over the years hundreds of sealers have died trying to support their families in this way. It is certainly not a walk in the park.

Protest groups speak endlessly about the brutal clubbing of baby seals off Newfoundland. The truth is, baby seals are not the target and most, not all, but most of the seals hunted in those waters are taken by rifle, not club. This was a lesson learned decades ago when public outrage caused a closure of the hunt.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) have stated publicly on several occasions that the hunt is as humane as is possible under such harsh conditions as the ice packs. These comments are not acceptable to protestors who see only big seal eyes and even bigger bank accounts.

The truth is, there is only one difference between hunting a seal by rifle and hunting deer, elk or ducks, all of which are commonly accepted sports. Simply put, deer, elk and duck hunting are done primarily for sport, while seal hunting is done to provide food, export products and to help support families.

Everyday millions of chickens, cows, pigs, etc are slaughtered to provide food for the nation’s dinner tables. Why does nobody protests this? Is it simply because the killing of these animals is done behind closed doors while seals are killed on pristine white ice where it’s harder to hide the blood?

I would almost be willing to bet that most of the well meaning folks who donate regularly to seal protest organizations don't mind hunting deer or elk, many probably enjoy salmon or trout fishing and no doubt the vast majority of them are not vegetarians.

Keep in mind that not only the seal pelts are used, although that’s what these protest groups would have the public believe. Maybe this is because it’s harder to raise funds by saying they want to take away a food source. Cattle ranchers and chicken farmers might get upset at that one.

In reality, seal meat is also a valuable commodity and the oil (high in Omega 3 fatty acids) is a great source of nutrients. As a matter of fact hospitals in England are currently looking at it as an intravenous food source for critically ill patients.I know it doesn't look nice to see an animal killed. I, like many people would never be able to do it myself. But I also bet that you, like I , have never been inside a rendering plant or slaughter house. I wonder what our reaction would be to eating beef, chicken, pork, or for that matter wearing leather shoes or coats, if we could see the process involved in slaughtering these animals and producing these products.

In a CBC interview a number of years back, Paul Watson, one of the world’s leading seal protesters, stated that he thought the International Fund for Animal Welfare was simply making a money grab by using the seal hunt to raise funds. At the time, he said that since seals were not endangered, protesting the hunt was beneficial primarily to the protest group’s bank accounts.

Turn the clock ahead a few years and apparently Mr. Watson has learned where the big money really is. The Canadian seal hunt. Practically overnight his group, the Sea Shepard Society, was propelled from being an obscure group to being center stage in the protest world and its coffers began to overflow. All because they took up the cause of the poor abused baby seal.

I have to wonder, since hunting seals is not solely a Canadian issue, why it is the biggest target of these groups? There is a major hunt in the American state of Alaska each year. This hunt is much larger than the Atlantic hunt, but nobody ever seems to notice it. Instead protest groups would rather ignore the Alaskan hunt and focus on Atlantic Canada. Could it be that U.S. citizens provide the vast majortiy of funding to these groups and, as they say, you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great comments as usual! The groups protesting the seal hunt have disgusted me for years. Unless these people are strict vegans (no animal products whatsoever, including milk, eggs, etc) and own absolutely nothing leather, then they have zero right to protest something they know very little about.

chickie said...

I love wearing my "I Club Baby Seals" shirt--bought at Living Planet, who also makes them ($25 tax incl.) The "club" is the card symbol. It's wicked fun, especially during tourist season when some americans had the chance to see it. Long live the seal hunt and shag all those who illegally fish our waters and overfish---you do more damamge than you know.

Anonymous said...

After having visited Canada every year (often twice a year) since 1973, I ended my trips there two years ago when the seal hunt resumed, as did numerous --- indeed thousands of --- others if the Economist was correct in its recent article about the drop in tourists in Canada (so, Chickie, put your T-shirt away becasue there are no tourists to see it, unless you buy one in Russian or Chinese). Fortunately, one need need wade through the stories and blogs that appear on one side of the issue or the other because in this day and age the videos speak for themselves, and that's how I decided myself. I agree with "anonymous" (above) 100 percent that no one has a right to protest unless they fit the description he/she offered, which I do, even going way beyond the few things he/she has offered (as do all the people I've met at the protests). Speaking as someone who has driven every single stretch of highway in Canada from Northwest River (Labrador) to Inuvik (Northwest Territories), I will miss spending time in Canada, but I will gain more staisfaction in knowing that my small sacrifice hurts far less than the blow of a single hakapik against the fragile skull of a seal pup. Mark my words, the seal hunt will end because of the protests (I drive around Washington DC a huge sign about the seal hunt on the back of my car). It's too bad that it will not be because of the Canadian Government's compassion. It will end becasue the people of Canada will speak out.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Now this is a double edged sword question IMHO.

Are we talking about the sheep who have too much money and don't know what to do with it? Can you say tax break? Shakes head unbelievingly!

Or are we talking about the evangelical leaders of the sheep? Maybe their space ship will come for them carrying rd cool aid.

I know no NL'ian will drink it because if it aint Freshy by I don't want none of it!

OMG my pass word is stayhomeprotesters!

It's an omen!

Anonymous said...

Good well founded article. We have the same emotive problem in the West of Scotland: large numbers of seals with ever decreasing fish stocks. Politicians have stated privately that they would never publicly support a cull because it would be public suicide! So much for democracy. instead they are quite happy knowing that fishermen have to kill seals illegally to protect their livelyhoods. I fully support our Canadian cousins in the cull.

Patriot said...

Thanks for the comments folks, and it's nice to hear from our visitor in Scotland who obviously understands our issue here. Welcome aboard.

Anonymous said...

Only cowards kill defenseless wild animals. Say what you want but you know killing seals to save overfished cod stocks is bs. Get real jobs and try raising domestic animals if you must kill helpless things. The whole world laughs at Canada for this, grow up.

FunkyPretty said...

"Only cowards kill defenseless wild animals. Say what you want but you know killing seals to save overfished cod stocks is bs. Get real jobs and try raising domestic animals if you must kill helpless things."

Only cowards make comments like that while remaining anonymous. And why do you think it's better to kill domestic animals than it is to kill WILD animals???

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

Mr. Higgins,

A couple of questions:

Have you have viewed footage of a seal "hunt" or witnessed one in person? Do you agree that a large number are skinned alive while conscious and if not, why not?

What is the difference in a "white coat" and other ages of slaughtered seals? Why should anyone care, in your opinion?

Why is this a "hunt" if the animals can not flee unlike say a deer hunt?

Thank you.

Patriot said...

To Mary Huskerland,

Thanks for the questions. I don't respond to all comments as it often takes a fair bit of time to research, write articles and maintian this site, not to mention my "real job" and I refuse to even speak to anonymous comments like the mis-guided one just prior to yours.

Yours however come across to me as honest questions that you are interested in answers to.

Firstly, Yes, I have seen films of seal hunts and not just those shot by people with vested interests. I also know and have known many people who have been directly involved in seal hunting over the years.

These are good, honest and hard working people who I know personally and who would be more likely to kill a fellow sealer right on the ice flow, if they found him brutally skinning a seal alive, than they would be to do something like that themselves.

You ask what the difference is in a white coat and the other seals killed. The difference is perception. White coats are not hunted and there is no market for their pelts because of the public outrage created by protest groups. In reality, this is why they are not hunted.

As for the animals being unable to flee, you are correct. In case you didn't realize it, when deer hunting, many hunters bait an area for weeks leading up to the opening of the season by spreading apples around, just so they can walk in and shoot one the first day. This is sport?

When it comes to food production from animals it is not pretty, but do cattle have a chance to run? Do pigs or sheep?

I realize for many people out there nobody will ever convince them that the hunt is a valuable and necessary process. I am not trying to convince anyone of this. They're opinion is there opinion. What I have an issue with is wealthy groups who twist the truth to suit they're own agenda and to manipulate public opinion by doing so.

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

Patriot--Thank you for your response. I was honestly interested in your responses as you live in a sealing area.

I must say, however, that I am a volunteer with HSUS and the international coalition to stop this.

Regarding whitecoats, I think the distinction is a red herring that the average American could care less about. Inhumane slaughter is inhumane slaughter. Once they are made aware this is going on, they are generally outraged and disgusted and interested in hair splitting. This is a huge black eye for the great country of Canada.

I agree with your comments about deer, which to me, just proves the point that this slaughter is senseless.

As to the sealers, can't imagine anyone who could do this is a decent person, but to the extent they are, they can be retrained to do something else.

As for the rest of your piece, I think the following from the HSUS FAQ page takes care of it.

Thank you.


Because The Humane Society of the United States and other animal protection organizations, as part of the ProtectSeals Network, have been working hard to stop Canada's seal hunt, you have likely heard misleading statements by sealing industry spokespeople with a vested interest in continuing this annual slaughter. Take a few minutes to learn the truth about this cruel and unjustifiable hunt—and then log on to www.protectseals.org to get a glimpse, through words and video, of the gruesome practice that Canadian officials claim is "98% humane."

Why Is The HSUS Using Graphic Pictures?
Most people are unaware that Canada's commercial seal hunt continues. That's why we must work to inform the world that the seal hunt is back—bigger and crueler than ever. It is the barbarity of this slaughter that generates so much opposition. The commercial seal hunt occurs miles offshore, far away from a public that would be horrified to witness it. And that is why we show these images. It is not pleasant to see animal suffering. But it is only through observing that we can understand what is happening, and then work to end to the suffering.


Why Not Just Go After the Markets for Seal Products?
We are actively involved in Europe to close markets for seal products. Recently, the Belgian government announced its intention to ban all trade in seal products, which already is illegal in the United States. Similar initiatives are underway in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, and other European countries.

But more work is needed. With increasingly smaller markets for seal products, the Canadian government may try to subsidize more slaughter, which would still give sealers an incentive to kill seals. We are therefore seeking to pressure the Canadian government through a global seafood boycott; The HSUS, of course, is focusing on the United States, where most Canadian seafood is sold. We believe the Canadian government will soon realize a boycott of its seafood products is too high a price for continuing the seal hunt.

Why Isn't The HSUS Spray-Painting the Seals?
Several decades ago, organizations protesting the commercial seal hunt painted some seals with dye to make their skins valueless to the fur industry. Very quickly, the Canadian government enacted legislation making this an illegal activity. Today, our ability to observe and document this slaughter is contingent upon adhering to the conditions of our observation permits, which do not allow us to disrupt the seal hunt.

Should I Sign the Pledge to Boycott Canadian Seafood If I'm Vegetarian?
This pledge is intended for everybody. Even if you don't consume seafood, please voice your concern by signing the pledge to show both the seafood industry and government of Canada unified opposition to the seal hunt. Also, please ask the managers and buyers in the restaurants and grocery stores you frequent not to buy or sell Canadian seafood, even if you are a vegetarian. Since the seafood industry is in a position to help stop the commercial seal hunt, we need to target all seafood products exported from Canada. For more information on why we think this is the most effective tactic, please go to our main boycott page.

Won't a Boycott Harm Innocent People Who Do Not Hunt Seals?
By permitting this slaughter to continue, the Canadian government has exposed itself to international ridicule and threatened the livelihood of its fishermen. After nearly four decades of unsuccessful negotiations with the government, we are launching a global boycott of Canadian seafood products until the commercial seal hunt finally ends. Several months ago, officials with Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans told us this outcome will only come about if Canada's fishing industry requests it. The implication is that everyone involved in Canada's fishing industry can stop the seal hunt. We sincerely regret the impact on those who are not involved in the sealing industry, and we ask them to work with us to end the commercial seal hunt before Canada's fishing industry pays a steep price.

Seal hunting is an off-season activity of a few thousand fishermen from Canada's east coast. They make, on average, about 5% of their income from sealing, and the rest from commercial fisheries. Seventy percent of Canadian seafood is exported to the United States each year, and this gives American consumers some leverage in ending the seal hunt.

If members of the Canadian fishing industry help us in demanding an end to the seal hunt, the government is more likely to listen and stop the slaughter. For more information on why we think this is the most effective strategy, please go to our main boycott page.

Why Is The HSUS Using White Coat Imagery? Is It Legal to Kill Baby Seals?
Make no mistake: This hunt is still very much one for babies. Ninety-six percent of the seals killed are under three months of age. For an animal who may live more than 35 years, these are babies by any standard. No one is saying that white coats (those under 12 days) are being targeted. However, baby seals may be killed when they are just beginning to lose their white fur and still appear to be a white coat. These seals are called ragged jackets, and we use their pictures often in our campaign. Most have not yet had their first solid meal or taken their first swim—and they literally have no escape from the hunters.

Why Does The HSUS Demand an End To the Hunt and Not Just Better Regulations and Enforcement?
The HSUS wants an end to this hunt because it is unconscionable to kill seals for their fur and skin. Moreover, the participation of a civilized nation like Canada in the largest slaughter of marine mammals on earth sets an atrious example for the treatment of our fellow creatures on earth. In addition, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has not lodged any charges to date in response to the cruelty complaints it has received, despite the hard work of animal advocates who have documented violations and abuses.

Does the Average Canadian Support or Oppose the Hunt?
Polling shows 85% of Canadians believe seals under one year of age should be protected from all hunting (98.5% of the more than 317,000 seals killed in 2005 were under just two months of age).

Many Canadian groups are working with us to stop the hunt, including the Vancouver Humane Society, Nova Scotia Humane Society, Animal Alliance of Canada, Environment Voters, Global Action Network, Greenpeace Canada, International Fund for Animal Welfare, World Society for the Protection of Animals-Canada, The Green Party of Canada, and many other Canadian organizations.

You can read some of the many positive comments from concerned Canadians about our campaign on this page.

Will the Hunt Harm the Harp Seal Population?
Though the harp seal population has increased since the 1970s when they were severely over-hunted, their current numbers are just recovering from an all-time population low in the 1950s. Government scientists estimate that the harp seal herd has been declining since 1996, and the current plan is predicted to reduce the population even further. Poor ice conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where many harp seals give birth, may already be affecting the species as well.

Harp seal experts, The HSUS, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Greenpeace, and our ProtectSeals Network cite a wealth of scientific evidence showing the insustainability of the seal hunt. Ice cover off the Atlantic coast, where seals give birth, is rapidly thinning, and there is evidence of rising seal mortality rates. Furthermore, cruelty to wildlife, whether rare or abundant, should not be tolerated.

Greenpeace recently came out with a thorough report on the Canadian government's extreme mismanagement of the harp seal population.

Won't Stopping the Seal Hunt Hurt the Cod Population?
The decline of cod and other fisheries is caused by over-fishing, not marine mammals. Please see this page for a report from the internationally respected harp seal biologist, Dr. David LaVigne, who gives evidence that the Canadian government is mismanaging the seal hunt population, and that it is more concerned with its own economic interests than the health of the seal and cod population.

Is the Seal Hunt Humane and Is Clubbing Still Allowed?
The seals are clubbed as well as shot. Hakapiks (primitive clubs) are legal and commonly used. If you watch the footage of this year's commercial seal hunt at www.protectseals.org you will see the hunters frequently using clubs. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, clubs and hakapiks are the killing implement of choice, and in The Front, guns are more widely used. The DFO has shown little interest in reducing the inherent cruelty of the hunt and enforcing its own regulations.

In 2001, a report by an independent team of respected veterinarians, who were invited by IFAW to observe the hunt, also concluded that governmental regulations were neither being respected nor enforced, and that the seal hunt failed to comply with Canada's basic animal welfare regulations. The veterinarians found a disturbing number of seals (as many as 40%) probably were skinned while alive and conscious. You can read the full report here.

As for the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association study claiming that only 2% of the seals were killed inhumanely, some have questioned the reliability of a survey in which those carrying out the killing knew they were being observed.

Is Shooting Seals Humane?
Shooting, like clubbing, is extremely inhumane; because hunters shoot at seals from moving boats, the pups are often only wounded. The main sealskin processing plant in Canada deducts $2 for each bullet hole on a pelt. Therefore sealers are loath to shoot seals more than once. As a result, wounded seals are left to suffer in agony and many slip beneath the surface of the water where they die slowly and are never recovered.

Isn't the Canadian Seal Hunt an Aboriginal Hunt?
Subsistence seal hunts are not the target of the Protect Seals campaign. Fewer than 1% of harp seals last year were killed by aboriginal people in Canada. The truth is that the commercial seal hunt near Newfoundland and in Gulf of St. Lawrence is a large scale, industrial slaughter conducted by non-native people. Powerful ice-breaking boats and sophisticated aerial-spotting techniques enable hunters to pinpoint seals with relative ease. This year, the combination of high-tech equipment and old-time brutality will translate into more than 300,000 dead seals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Isn't The Hunt Acceptable Because It Is Not Wasteful—All the Products Are Put to Use?
The commercial hunt specifically benefits the fur fashion industry. The seals are skinned for their pelts and fat, and virtually all of the seal meat is left to rot on the ice. A very small amount of meat is sold to Canadian factory fur farms. These seals are killed primarily for the European and Asian fur fashion industry, and used by such major designers as Versace and Prada. That is not for subsistence by any means.

The use of seal oil is insignificant, and the Canadian government promotes its use to justify the hunt. There are plenty of alternatives on the market, including flax oil, which does not entail cruelty.

For more information on the fashion industry's use of seal fur and skins, please see our Designers Who Use Seal Fur page.


Is the Hunt Well-Regulated and Are the Regulations Monitored or Enforced?
Enforcement of hunt regulations is spotty and inadequate at best. The HSUS ProtectSeals team witnessed first-hand the terrible cruelty and brutality of the hunt on March 29. They saw animals being clubbed and left for dead, when the animals were still alive and struggling to survive. One seal, in particular, was clubbed, and she dragged herself around for 90 minutes while suffocating in her own blood. In past years, witnesses have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of animals skinned alive on the ice. They have rarely seen the blink reflex test administered.

The blink-reflex test is very simple. It involves leaning over and touching the dead animal's eyeball. If the animal doesn't blink, it is in fact dead. If it does blink, it's an indication the animal is alive and possibly conscious. Unless sealers administer this test, they have no way of knowing if the animal they're skinning is dead. Last year, witnesses did not see the test administered at all. This is a clear violation of the marine mammal regulations, but one that the government appears unable to enforce.

Does the Canadian Government Subsidize the Hunt?
The commercial seal hunt receives many forms of subsidies from the Canadian government. The Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment reports that the government provided more than $20 million in subsidies to the sealing industry between 1995 and 2001. They are made in the form of interest-free loans and grants to cover wages and capital costs for processing companies, for companies to develop seal products, and for product marketing trips overseas.

Why Is The HSUS Trying to Hurt the Economy of Poor Coastal Communities?
Economic analysis shows that the seal hunt has very little positive economic effect on Newfoundland. The Canadian government and fishing industry are promoting the hunt in spite of worldwide opposition that has led to a boycott of all Canadian seafood.

The HSUS is urging the government of Canada to help individuals caught in the tragedy of slaughtering seals to develop livelihoods in other occupations and in other segments of the economy. Few believe that killing seals will continue to be a viable livelihood for the next century.

When the Canadian government banned whale killing, some discovered that whale watching tours were more profitable. In the same respect, The HSUS believes seal and other wildlife-watching excursions would be better for the economy and the ecology of the east coast.

Why Isn't The HSUS Working to Stop Cruelty to Animals Who Are Less "Cute" Than Seals, Such as Farm Animals?
Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States work to make the world a better place for animals, regardless of how appealing the public perceives those animals to be. The Canadian commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on earth, and we are working with groups all around the world, including in Canada, to stop it.

In addition to our campaign to save the seals, The HSUS has an entire department devoted to protecting farm animals. We also work to protect many other animals not considered to be as appealing as baby seals, including rattlesnakes and rats used in laboratories.

Why Isn't The HSUS Working to Stop America's War in Iraq Instead of Focusing on Seals?
We are the world's largest animal protection organization, and our mission is to help animals. If you have concerns about the Iraq war, you can find many organizations that work on peace issues. Since Canada’s seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals in the world, The HSUS is working vigorously to oppose it.

Why Isn't The HSUS Working to Stop Sealing in Its Own Country?
The HSUS worked successfully to end the last commercial seal hunt in the United States in 1985. It was conducted on the Pribilof Islands in Alaska, and the same arguments were made then that are used to justify the seal kill in Canada. In the end, the United States government provided economic assistance and retraining to help citizens who took part in seal killing. That program was successful, and the same methods are needed now in Canada.

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

Correction--Not interested in hair-splitting....

Patriot said...

Thanks again for your comments Marie in Huskerland. I appreciate the fact that you do not agree with my point of view and I applaud your ability to converse in a civil way on the topic.

Too often those on both sides of the issue have resorted to abusive language and an argumentitive approach. I applaud you for not stooping to that level.

Just a couple of notes on your most recent comments.

Firstly, I do not see deer hunting as senseless if the meet is consumed rather than simply hunting for trophies. My opinion, unlike that of the humane society, which is an animal rights group, not an animal welfare group, does not preclude the use of animals as a food source.

Secondly, I can appreciate that you are not familiar with life in rural Newfoundland and Labrador since you live in the U.S. The reality is that re-training of fishermen so they don't need to seal hunt is not feasible.

You need to understand that this is the only life many of these people have known for generation after generation and we live in an environment where the unemployment rate provincially hovers around 20%. In rural areas, where most of these people live, the rate sometimes reaches into the 40 - 50% range.

Re-training does not work when there is no other employment to be had. Sealing not only provides an imcome for these families, it also provides another food source.

Thanks again for your comments and feel free to stop by for a visit to our site anytime.

Sincerely,
Myles

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

Patriot--
I agree that a civil discussion is preferable. I understand that in May 1998, then Newfoundland Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, John Efford, told the House of Assembly: "I would like to see the 6 million seals, or whatever number is out there, killed and sold, or destroyed or burned. I do not care what happens to them…the more they kill the better I will love it."

How completely shocking to come from a public official with any decision making authority on the matter.

I am unaware of any of these animals that have been killed for meat. Can you provide documentation? Not all that are involved with this campaign are vegetarians, however that is their right. One thing all of us volunteers have in common is a strong bond and commitment to end this.

As for the sealers, where there is a will, there is a way. I sympathize with poverty but do not believe it warrants barbaric behavior. I believe the practice has more to due with tradition, as you mentioned. Civilization is fraught with examples traditions that were wrong and should have never been engaged in. We in the U.S. are no different and our shameful examples are obvious.

I, and thousands of others, hold steadfast in our commitment to end this. "And evil never triumphs."

Marie

NL-ExPatriate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patriot said...

Firstly to NL-Expatriat: I know you have recieved my email by now, but for the benefit of anyone reading your comment, as you now know, I did not delete your comment. I do not practice censorship in this site. The only comments I have deleted in the past were spam (sales type junk mail) and comments that used overly offensive language.

I apologize if your comment did not make it through but sometimes these things happen.

Secondly, to Marie in Huskerland:

I agree with you on the absurdity of John Efford's comments when he was fisheries minister. If you have read any of my articles, other than the seal hunt pieces you would have known how I feel about this man. You would also have learned much more about the culture or issues facing this province an how we live. Which brings me to my next point.

You asked me for evidence that people eat seal meat. I can't believe you have no idea that seal is eaten. I can't send you any documentation on this without spending some time digging it out, but perhaps you might do a google search on recipes for it. I can tell you that it indeed is eaten and as a matter of fact it tastes quite delicious. It is eaten not only by local residents but also sold in restaurants.

Next, you say that tradition does not warrant barbaric behaviour. The word barbaric is very subjective. Some might feel that the US approach to spreading democracy is barbaric or that trying to stop a legal hunt of food products that help ensure people have food on the table and clothes on thier backs is barbaric. This is a subjective point which I don't agree with and don't feel deserves argument.

I would say that I would respect your cause more if you were representing an animal welfare group rather than an animal rights group with espouses the rights of animals on par with the rights of humanity.

Here is a quote from Michael Fox of the Humane Society of the United States: "The life of an ant and the life of my child should be accorded equal respect."

I ask you, how can you take someone like this seriously? In essence this man is trying to say he would do as much to protect an ant as he would his own child. If the choice came down to something like that, I would hate to be the ant.

This sort of zealot approach is the type of thing that hurts your cause. Let me give you another example from PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk: "There is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They're all mammals."

These people are obviously living in a theoretical world with no concept of reality. If you want to further your cause, distance yourself from these animal rights groups and connect with perhaps an animal welfare group instead.

Here is the reality of the situation American Veterinary Association:

"The AVMA's commitment to animal welfare is unsurpassed. However, animal welfare and animal rights are not the same. AVMA cannot endorse the philosophical views and personal values of animal rights advocates when they are incompatible with the responsible use of animals for human purposes..."

With less than 3 percent of the Earth's surface being suitable for crop production, animal protein and fiber will continue to be indispensible to the survival of the planet's 6 billion people, and to the conservation of natural habitat. It is for these reasons that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) promotes the use by humans of both plants and animals, domestic and wild.

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

Thanks, Patriot. The issue I am commenting on is the seal slaughter, not the entire realm of animal rights.

I will research the meat issue further. I have seen no credible evidence that any significant portion of this "hunt" has anything to do with food.

Sharon in Prince Edward Island said...

Really poor research. Y

You forgot to mention that the seal slaughter as we know it today would not exist but for substantial government subsidies. Most Canadians object to the use of our precious tax dollars for destroying the environment.


Taking on the Scribes of Deceit



Commentary by Captain Paul Watson



It appears that Newfoundland journalism is as incompetent and as unconcerned with truth and facts as the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

An example is a recent article on the Red Lobster protests and our campaign to put economic pressure on the Canadian sealing industry to stop the slaughter of seals.

The Newfoundland media sees what they want to see, they hear what they want to hear and they publish what they wish to publish without letting inconvenient fact-checking get in the way.

The article by Myles Higgins is a classic case of ignoring the facts type of journalism. It’s all the gossip, rumor and fabrications fit to print.

I have reprinted Myles Higgins piece as an example of this yellow journalistic rant that poses as journalism.

I have inserted my comments to correct his errors and distortions.



Atlantic & East Coast Report
What Motivates Seal Hunt Protest Groups?
By Myles Higgins
Friday, September 23, 2005

In an effort to stop Atlantic Canada's annual seal hunt, sealing protest groups are using the tactic of pressuring restaurants in the U.S. into boycotting Canadian seafood products. We all hear sporadic news reports on the efforts of seal protests but how much do we really understand about what these groups doing, and what is the truth behind the hunt itself?

Paul Watson: Higgins has set himself up to deliver the truth about the seal slaughter. Let’s see how he does. He promises to answer the question of what motivates Seal Hunt Protest Groups. What he does however is provide his opinion of what motivates seal defenders, an opinion not backed up by any facts or proof.

If you visit the web sites of the multitude of protest groups out there such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Paul Watson's Sea Shepard Society, or for that matter even the American SPCA, the first thing you will notice is that these groups are blatantly mis-leading the public on the topic of the Atlantic seal hunt.

Paul Watson: Now apparently Higgins did visit our website but failed to see how the word Shepherd is spelt. It’s easy Myles. Just think of the word sheep and think of the word herd and drop an e in sheep and you have s-h-e-p-h-e-r-d. And how are we blatantly mis-leading the public? I guess we will have to read further and see what evidence Myles produces to back up this rather bold and confident statement. In this “well researched” article we see Higgins referring to the American SPCA website. What he meant to say was he was referring to the website of the Humane Society of the United States which is HSUS. There is a big difference and I’m sure he did not find anything on the SPCA website since it is HSUS that is championing the seals and not the SPCA. I don’t know how Myles expects that the first thing they will notice on the SPCA website is misleading information on the Canadian seal hunt when there is no information on the seal hunt there at all. I certainly don’t think it is the first thing one would notice on the Sea Shepherd website. It is there to be sure but our seal campaigns are not given any more prominence than our other campaigns.

They insist on displaying pictures of baby white coat seals, they talk about hunters skinning animals alive and some refer to seal hunters as barbarians. This may play well in areas around the world where people do not know the truth, but not in many parts of Atlantic Canada and most assuredly not in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Paul Watson: We have pictures of raggedy jacketed seals on our website. They don’t look like whitecoats to me. But the fact is that a baby seal is a baby seal and the only difference between a whitecoat and the pups they are cruelly slaughtering is about three weeks. The other problem is that is difficult to get pictures of the slightly older (non-whitecoat pups) being killed because it is illegal to take photos of the killing. The only reason we have pictures of these seals on our website is that 12 of us had to be arrested to get them. Now people in Newfoundland may believe that there is a distinction between a two week old seal and a four week old seal or even a six week old seal but most people in the rest of the world are not that concerned about such subtle differences. What they see and object to is the mass inhumane slaughter of over 350,000 seal pups, and yes they are all baby seals – each year.

As for seals being skinned alive. I’ve seen it and our websites has video images of seals suffering. Now if Newfoundlanders wish to deny what they see on the video this does not negate the truth of the images being shown.

The truth is that white coat baby seals have not been hunted for decades and sealers are not savages who enjoy torturing animals. Granted, there may be an isolated number of "idiots" out there who could care less about the cruelity they inflict, but this is true of any place in the world and in any industry. It is not the norm. The average sealer is just like you and me, with one exception. They are trying to make a living in a much tougher and much more dangerous line of work than many of us could even dream of.

Paul Watson: Higgins says that whitecoats have not been hunted for decades. This is not true. Whitecoats are regularly taken by landsmen sealers along the coast of Newfoundland and Quebec. As for cruelty, Higgins can’t even spell it let alone recognize it. The average sealer may be like Myles Higgins and the crowd he hangs out with but the average sealer is not at all like me or humane people anywhere who view such despicable behaviour as barbaric, vicious and cruel. As for making a living in a tough and dangerous line of work, give me a break Myles, the work I do protecting marine wildlife is tougher and more dangerous than anything these baby-killers do. What is so dangerous about clubbing and shooting seal pups that can’t defend themselves. I have more ice time than the average sealer and the average sealing captain makes more money than I do.

One only has to visit the web sites of these groups to see a possible motive for dispensing with reality and spreading hatred. Money. All of these sites, without exception, have links where the gullible can donate. One site I visited actually had over 15 such links on its front page.

Paul Watson: I always find it amazing that people who mass slaughter animals and despoil the eco-system say that criticism of their destruction and violence is spreading hatred. As for collecting money to protect seals, I think it is far more honourable for people to contribute money to protect life and to prevent suffering than to make money from taking life and inflicting suffering.

As for the accusations by some in Newfoundland that the seal slaughter is exploited by seal defenders to make money, I would suggest that if Newfoundlanders believe this to be true, they should end the seal kill to make sure no more money is being raised to oppose the killing.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society does not raise much money for seals unfortunately. We are not one of the big fund-raising organizations and we are far more active relative to our funding than most organizations.

I would like nothing better than to see the need for people to donate to the seal protection cause ended. I view our business as being in business to put ourselves out of business and this business of killing seals is something I would dearly love to see ended in my lifetime.

The fact is that these groups are actually making more from the annual Atlantic seal hunt than the sealers themselves. Take for example the $77.5 million U.S. the International Fund For Animal Welfare raised last year and it's easy to see the benefits seal huntinig actually bring to protest groups. Fund raising, not protection of species is often their prime objective. It might be very enlightening if groups who use the March seal hunt as there annual fund raiser were placed under microscopic investigation to see how much money they really make from it and exactly how that money is spent.

Paul Watson: I agree with this. When you take all the funds raised by IFAW, HSUS, Greenpeace and dozens of other organizations, the funding far exceeds the meager $16 million brought in by this trivial industry of sealing. There is no need to place each group under “microscopic investigation.” It’s hard to read a ledger with a microscope anyway. All contributions and expenditures of charitable organizations are an open book to the public. The figures are there for the asking and for examining. There is no need for wild speculation Myles. Perhaps you should do a little investigative journalism sometime.

In fact I agree with one thing here and that is that some of these big organizations should be spending more to end this obscenity. Greenpeae for example collects money to save seals but does nothing to oppose it.

If these groups were truly interested in protecting a species, why not fight to protect overfished cod stocks which are truly on the brink of extinction? The answer is simple. Even though seal populations are quite strong, they are far cuter than the lowly cod fish. Who among us would dig deep into their pockets seeing a picture cod fish, but a doe eyed baby seal, now that's a different story.

Paul Watson: Higgins claims to have read our website and then makes the above statement completing ignoring all the work that Sea Shepherd does to protect fish. He sees what he wants to see. The fact is that I led the first interference against foreign drag trawling on the Tail of the Grand Banks in 1993 and Canada arrested me for chasing these foreign vessels away and preventing them from setting their trawls. Just this year we deployed net rippers on the Tail of the Banks to sabotage bottom trawls.

All over the world, Sea Shepherd crew are intercepting fish poachers and working in cooperation with national parks in a half a dozen nations to stop illegal fishing. We have campaigns protecting everything from plankton to sea cucumbers to sharks to sea turtles to seals to dolphins and whales.

Whereas the Department of Fisheries and Ocean mismanaged the cod populations into near extinction, the Sea Shepherd Conservations Society acted to protect cod while the fishermen whined and the government did nothing. You see what you wish to see Myles and that is a fact.

How much longer will the seal killers continue to promote this myth that seals are being exploited by seal defenders because they are cute and cuddly and that we do not care about fish or lobsters or so called non-cute animals?

Atlantic cod stocks are nearly depleted, due in part to overfishing both in Canada and abroad, but also due to the voracious appetite of seals. The current seal population is larger than it has been in decades and these predators, make no mistake, they are predators, love fish.

Paul Watson: When Jacques Cartier came to the Gulf of St. Lawrence there were tens of millions of seals and no shortage of cod. There were far greater populations of sea-birds, dolphins, whales and even the walrus which has been driven to extinction on the Atlantic coast. We know what destroyed the cod Myles, it was the greed of the fishing industry, the apathy of the fishermen and the incompetence of the governments of Canada and Newfoundland.

And you are right Myles. Seals are indeed predators and they live in an eco-system designed by nature as a prey predator relationship for which they have had millions of years of evolution to prepare them for. They are a part of that system. We are not. It was our voracious appetite and not theirs that destroyed the Cod. Seals give back to the eco-system whereas we are takers. Seal prey upon fish for food, we annihilate them for profit.

Recently Paul Watson of the Sea Shepard Society publicly stated that seals actually eat very little cod, instead they prey on species that eat the cod. According to Mr. Watson, by leaving the seals alone, cod stocks would be increased.

One thing Mr. Watson never mentioned however is exactly what these other predatory species are. Could it be that he didn't say what these species are because he can't. What exactly is eating the cod and are the seals really eating these predators? Does he expect people to believe that seals are eating sharks or maybe it's whales they're. For his sake I hope it isn't the latter because if it is, how will he ever protect both the seals and the whales?

Paul Watson: If Myles had bothered to attend one of my talks and if he actually bothered to listen he would have heard me say that about 4% of a harp seals diet is cod and the rest is composed of other species including many that prey upon young cod. Capelin and herring, haddock and sole among others. Higgins then jokes about seals eating sharks and whales. My suggestion to Mr. Higgins is to take a primer on the marine biology of the Northwest Atlantic and he will find hundreds of species that are interdependent with each other and he will also find that thanks to DFO and the fishing industry these interdependent relationships have been severely disrupted. I believe that if seal populations increase, that cod populations will increase although the cod has been so severely over-fished that it’s niche in the eco-system is being usurped by other species that are more numerous and they may not recover no matter what happens.

A few years back a video was shot by a local resident in one of the bays in Newfoundla nd. This video clearly showed seals herding thousands of cod into the bay and savagely ripping their bellies out. Because the video was not shot by an “Official” source, it was completely disregarded by protest groups.

Paul Watson: I am well aware of this video and I believe it was simply a propaganda stunt by John Efford when he was Minister of Fisheries for Newfoundland. I did not disregard the video. In fact I offered $25,000 for video proof of a seal eating the stomach out of a cod and discarding it. The video only showed dead cod on the bottom of the bay with their stomachs hacked out. The video did not show seals herding the cod into the bay or “savagely” ripping their bellies out. Produce the video Myles and you got yourself $25,000 bucks. What do you say b’ye? You did not see this video did you Myles? You are simply repeating a lie. If not, you’ve got some easy money.

At the time this video was released, I offered this reward and I had no takers. I accused John Efford of fabricating the entire story and challenged him to a debate and he refused.

In a way Mr. Watson is right about seals not eating a great deal of cod. They usually just feed on the soft underbelly of the fish, unfortunately once the belly is ripped out, the cod doesn't just swim happily away. Unfortunately as well, the belly alone does little to satiate a full grown seal so after killing the first, it simply moves on to the next cod and the next and the next.

Paul Watson: The myth of the cod stomach eating cod is now a full blown reality in the mind of Myles Higgins, John efford and many other pro-sealing Newfoundlanders. He is mistaking human fishing methods for the seals. Wasteful by-catch is a human activity and we dump thousands of tons of perfectly good fish back into the sea every year as by-catch or because of quota regulations. Once again Myles $25K for the video evidence my son. Furthermore, name me just one marine mammal scientist who will back up this absurd claim with verified observations.

If these groups really wanted to stop seal hunting, rather than using the current tactic of trying to force restaurants to boycott Canadian fish products, maybe they should try to stop overfishing in Atlantic waters. If fish stocks came back to a viable level, fishers might not need to hunt as many seals to augment their incomes. Instead of taking this type of approach however, they would rather paint sealers as barbarians who love to go to the ice and massacre poor baby seals. Is this even rational?

Paul Watson: Been there, done that Myles. Canada did everything they could to prevent me from continuing to stop over-fishing. DFO is not interested in solutions and I don’t think you are either, or any in the fishing industry who scape-goat the seals for the greed of the industry and the mismanagement of DFO.

One Magdalen Island sealer told me he goes sealing to get away from the old lady, drink some beers and kill something. Mickey Dwyer in his book on being a sealer illustrates that barbarism we talk about. The sealers brag to us how they loves to kill seals and I have seen their cruelty up close and personal and it is barbaric, it is cruel, it is vicious and it is obscene.

Who in their right mind would believe that people are going out to the hunt and risking their lives under the coldest, harshest conditions imaginable, simply for the fun of it. Life on the ice flows is perhaps one of the most dangerous there is. Over the years hundreds of sealers have died trying to support their families in this way. It is certainly not a walk in the park.

Paul Watson: When was the last time a sealer died on the Ice Myles? This is not 1917 and even Newfoundland would not tolerate the ruthlessness of a Captain Abraham Kean whose irresponsibility left so many men to die on the ice in his mad quest for profits. Give us a break. The Coast Guard has a small army out there protecting them now. If the poor dears fall into the water, they will be rushed to a hospital lickety split. There is more danger in playing golf and being struck by lightening than there is in killing seals. It is not a walk in the park, it is a cowardly stroll through a nursery with a club attacking defenseless seal pups.

Protest groups speak endlessly about the brutal clubbing of baby seals off Newfoundland. The truth is, baby seals are not the target and most, not all, but most of the seals hunted in those waters are taken by rifle, not club. This was a lesson learned decades ago when public outrage caused a closure of the hunt.

Paul Watson: I was out on the ice this year and I heard some gunshots but most of the seals I saw were pups killed with clubs. Here Myles forgets himself and admits that the public was outraged about the killing.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) have stated publicly on several occasions that the hunt is as humane as is possible under such harsh conditions as the ice packs. These comments are not acceptable to protestors who see only big seal eyes and even bigger bank accounts.

Paul Watson: Check again Myles. That is not what their latest report says at all. They have serious reservations about the method and about the regulating of the slaughter and they say so in their report. Saying that a kill is as humane as possible is not the same thing as saying it is humane. Again you see what you wish to see.

The truth is, there is only one difference between hunting a seal by rifle and hunting deer, elk or ducks, all of which are commonly accepted sports. Simply put, deer, elk and duck hunting are done primarily for sport, while seal hunting is done to provide food, export products and to help support families.

Paul Watson: I know of absolutely no sport hunting where the prey is a baby animal. I don’t see hunters shooting fawns or bear cubs or piglets or ducklings in their nest. I don’t approve of hunting myself but to equate this obscenity with deer hunting must surely be repugnant even to hunters.

Everyday millions of chickens, cows, pigs, etc are slaughtered to provide food for the nation's dinner tables. Why does nobody protests this? Is it simply because the killing of these animals is done behind closed doors while seals are killed on pristine white ice where it's harder to hide the blood?

Paul Watson: “Why does nobody protests this?” Aside from the atrocious grammar, what planet of anthropomorphic imbeciles is Myles living on? Myles have you not heard of PETA or vegetarians or vegans? Have you not heard of the animal rights movement? There is plenty of protesting about the treatment of farmed animals. The slaughter has been videoed and shown to the public Of course if you choose not to see these protests than it is easy to make such a ridiculous statement like nobody is protesting the killing of animals for food.

I would almost be willing to bet that most of the well meaning folks who donate regularly to seal protest organizations don't mind hunting deer or elk, many probably enjoy salmon Paul Watson: or trout fishing and no doubt the vast majority of them are not vegetarians.

You assume much Myles. I don’t believe we have many hunters on our membership role and by the way my crew eat vegetarian and vegan meals on my ships. And for your information, the animal rights and animal welfare movements are amongst the fastest growing social movements on the planet.

Keep in mind that not only the seal pelts are used, although that's what these protest groups would have the public believe. Maybe this is because it's harder to raise funds by saying they want to take away a food source. Cattle ranchers and chicken farmers might get upset at that one.

Paul Watson: I have no problem with upsetting cattle ranchers and chicken farmers. R-e-s-e-a-r-c-h Myles, I spelt it for you - look up the meaning and try and put it into practice.

In reality, seal meat is also a valuable commodity and the oil (high in Omega 3 fatty acids) is a great source of nutrients. As a matter of fact hospitals in England are currently looking at it as an intravenous food source for critically ill patients.I know it doesn't look nice to see an animal killed. I, like many people would never be able to do it myself. But I also bet that you, like I , have never been inside a rendering plant or slaughter house. I wonder what our reaction would be to eating beef, chicken, pork, or for that matter wearing leather shoes or coats, if we could see the process involved in slaughtering these animals and producing these products.

Paul Watson: Yes Myles I see lots of this meat lying wasted on the ice. I suppose it is being kept in cold storage until it washes up on a beach to be used. The seal meat is not used Myles and you damn well know it, or maybe you don’t, considering you don’t know that much else about seals or sealing. I’ve been in a rendering plant and I have been in slaughter houses– quite a few actually and I oppose the exploitation of animals for consumer products. Thanks for the tip on the hospitals. We’ll look into this and we’ll see about putting an end to that nonsense I can assure you.

In a CBC interview a number of years back, Paul Watson, one of the world's leading seal protesters, stated that he thought the International Fund for Animal Welfare was simply making a money grab by using the seal hunt to raise funds. At the time, he said that since seals were not endangered, protesting the hunt was beneficial primarily to the protest group's bank accounts.

Paul Watson: Yes I have been critical of IFAW at times and I think they should be putting more of an effort into protecting seals. I was not sure if the harp seal was endangered in the seventies but I am quite sure they are in trouble now due to over-fishing, pollution, global warming and DFO mismanagement and incompetence.

Turn the clock ahead a few years and apparently Mr. Watson has learned where the big money really is. The Canadian seal hunt. Practically overnight his group, the Sea Shepard Society, was propelled from being an obscure group to being center stage in the protest world and its coffers began to overflow. All because they took up the cause of the poor abused baby seal.

Paul Watson: Practically overnight! Let me see I founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 1977 well over a quarter of a century ago Myles. Our very first campaign was to oppose the seal slaughter so it is not like we just decided to take it up one day. We have grown slowly because we did not go the direct mail marketing route. We grew by word of mouth and our overall annual budget is less than one million dollars and not much of that is raised from the seal hunt. Our coffers are hardly overflowing in fact we don’t seem to have much of a coffer at all really. Our seal campaigns are in fact the lesser of our campaigns which you would know if you had really read our website. On that relatively small budget I run two ships crewed by volunteers and we are active around the world protecting marine parks from poachers and intervening to protect whales, sharks, sea-turtles and seals. If you choose us as an example of a rich organization you are barking up the wrong tree Myles. I suggest you look elsewhere for profiteering on the seals because your accusations simply cannot hold water with us.

I have to wonder, since hunting seals is not solely a Canadian issue, why it is the biggest target of these groups? There is a major hunt in the American state of Alaska each year. This hunt is much larger than t he Atlantic hunt, but nobody ever seems to notice it. Instead protest groups would rather ignore the Alaskan hunt and focus on Atlantic Canada. Could it be that U.S. citizens provide the vast majortiy of funding to these groups and, as they say, you don't bite the hand that feeds you.

Paul Watson: It is not our biggest target Myles but it is an important target for us. This year for example we have a campaign in Japan to oppose the slaughter of dolphins. We are patrolling the marine reserves of the Galapagos Islands and Colombia’s Malpelo Island National Park. We will be intervening against illegal Japanese whaling. We are confiscating longlines on the high seas. We have a campaign to stop the sale of shark fins in Asia and to intercept shark poachers at sea. We are helping to protect South African fur seals. We are opposing whaling initiatives in the United States.

Do you homework Myles. Be a journalist and stop being a non-fact checking pansy for the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. If you had any backbone at all you would be on their case for what they have done to the Atlantic region eco-systems. Or are you just another paid shill for DFO, a brass cheque journalist prostituting himself for a buck?

Your one statement in the above paragraph reveals just how little effort you put into researching a story. You state that the Alaskan hunt for seals is much larger than the Atlantic hunt. This is spin-doctoring on a very amateurish level Myles. Use google for heaven’s sake. The Alaska hunt for fur seals, which we oppose by the way, is a hunt by Aleut Indians in the Pribilof islands of a couple of thousand seals each year. The Newfoundland hunt killed over 320,000 this year alone. The Newfoundland hunt is about 150 times as large as the Alaska hunt and yet you state as fact that it is a much larger hunt.

One thing you are not is a bona fide journalist because you have no respect for the facts and no concern for evidence.

I think you should get a job you’re good at Myles and stop harping on about something you really don’t seem to know anything about.

Myles is freelance columnist originally from the central region of Newfoundland. He now resides with his wife and a terminally lazy Terrier named "Molson" in the beautiful town of Portugal Cove - St. Philips, "Where the sun meets the sea".

(Paul Watson: Ain’t that cute he's got a terrier which is his way of saying that he actually loves animals despite endorsing the mass slaughter of defenseless baby seals. He accuses seal defenders of appealing to the public by protecting cute and cuddly animals and then he uses a cute and loveable animal to give credibility and justification to his endorsement of cruelty.)

Myles' interest in Newfoundland and Labrador political and social issues is obvious in his writing for several publications and on his own web site, Web Talk - Newfoundland and Labrador. A site where Myles dedicates his time to providing an open commentary and discussion forum on newsworthy items of the day.


Captain Paul Watson
Founder and President - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Director - Sierra Club USA
Director - The Farley Mowat Institute
Director - Atlantic Grey Whale Society
President - Oceanic Research and Conservation Action Force
P.O. Box 2616
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Tel: 360-370-5650 Cell: 310-701-3096
E-mail: Paulwatson@earthlink.net
Website: www.Seashepherd.org

EarleBingley said...

Mr. Myles:
Usually I don't bother with journalistic redundant babble, but I have been on the ice floes and have seen these so-called decent men in action. In 1972, my last visit to the floes I came across a baby seal that had been skinned alive; the poor creature was still alive until a friend came along and snapped its neck.
I personally have been fighting the Canadian Government for 40 years and I have not gained one single penny from any of my efforts to see this disgusting hunt end.
As a journalist, you should check your facts before publishing such drivel. Canada's own scientists have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a seals diet from birth to death is less than 5% cod. For you and your friendly and kind hunters to say the seals are killing the cod is in my opinion a hyperbole.
Earle Bingley
Canadian Voice For Animals
www.canadianvoiceforanimals.org/

NL-ExPatriate said...

I think we can all agree on one thing. According to Mr Watson's comments Canada DFO has dropped the ball and left NL and the seals out to hang at the expense of trade concessions to the foreign draggers.

I commend the SeasShepard society and its members for trying to stop the Foreign Trawler Dragger clear cutting of the ocean bottom, by experimenting with net rippers. But I seriously doubt this had any effect out in the vast ocean of Newfoundland and Labrador. What with the technology availably to these draggers. We can only hope though!

I think you would find NL'ians very receptive to stopping the foreign over fishing and destructive fishing of our coast. I'm willing to bet they would even put the seal Harvest on hold until the cod stocks could be better managed or a better way of harvesting a sustainable seal harvest could be found.

Could you imagine the media coverage, fund raising possibilities if NL'ians and the SeaShepard foundation united to stop foreign over fishing and the destruction of ocean bottom!

Now this would take alot of eating humble pie and putting the interests of the ecology of the Grand Banks and the planet first and Foremost IMHO.

More humane harvest?
I'm thinking Electric stun guns then lifted aboard a factory Slaughter house ship for processing and proper killing practices according to accepted industry standards already practiced in slaughter houses. No wastage and easier to monitor.

Please don't correct my comments Mr Watson like you found so necessary to do to Mr Higgins because you couldn't find any better arguement. It just detracts from the issue and makes you look juvenile.
School teacher or animal activist, make up your mind?

Patriot said...

With regards to Paul Watson’s comments on this piece, first let me say that the commentary was intended to highlight the lies and financial motives behind major protest groups like his own. For him to have commented only momentarily on this point and to have focused on the point related to the seal hunt itself speaks to his mentality better than I ever could.

Secondly Mr. Watson, as another person commented, for you to pick on typos in the article over and over only makes you look sillier than you normally do.

I can tell by your nasty comments at me personally and your use in a derogatory way of "bye", that I have touched a nerve. Financing is your weak point after all.

If you want to put to bed any issues with your fund raising efforts and financial dealings why don’t you clarify items identified in a recent red flag report once and for all?

1 - IRS documents show that the non-profit Sea Shepherd society made a series of loans to its wholly-owned affiliate, the for-profit Northern Development Associates, between 1998 and 2003. Northern Development Associates, was a part of a 2.7 million dollar donation to Sea Shepherd by Ann Johnston, the wife and partner of a Key West, Fla developer who federal authorities banned from banking in 1995 and who has been under investigation by the FBI.

As of 2003, Northern Development owed Sea Shepherd $896,000 in "other loans receivable,

2 – In 2003 the Sea Shepherd society reported that it had sold “Friday Harbor land and buildings” for $165,938, reporting a loss on the transaction of $184,862. Records in the area show no transaction having occurred, however they do show a flurry of transactions involving both Paul Watson and Ann Johnson.

3 – In 2002 the Sea Shepherd society passed out $35,000 in grants. Despite IRS requirements to do so, the society did not divulge the recipients of those grants.

4 – When Paul Watson was elected as president of the Sierra club in 2003 he listed his home as Misty Fjords Lodge. This lodge, which was a part of the 2.7 million dollar Northern Development Associates donation by Ann Johnston, is identified by Mr. Watson as a research facility however the lodge is operated under permit by the US forestry service and is in actuality the only fishing lodge inside Misty Fjords National Monument Park. As of March of this year the lodge was on the market for $2.3 million.

5 – IRS records show two relevant entities named Northern Development Assoc. One in Alaska (where the lodge is located) and the other in Florida (where Ann Johnston an her husband, developer Pritam Singh, live). Records show major overlap between addresses and board members existing between the Sea Shepherd society and Northern Development Assoc.

Tax returns for Northern Development show losses of $222,611 in 2000, $201,180 in 2001 and $127,633 in 2002. All the while, Northern Development has been receiving loans from tax exempt Sea Shepherd society to the tune of over $896,000.

6 – In 1995, Pritam Singh was banned from banking for life and ordered to pay $1.2 million by federal bank regulators for his financing on a Key West business. Mr. Singh, as previously mentioned is the husband of a major contributor to Sea Shepherd, several members of both organizations have been closely linked and Mr. Singh himself has sat on the board of the Sea Shepherd society.

7 – In 2002, for the first time in history, Sea Shepherds tax return showed the society incorporating Northern Developments losses into its own bottom line.

8 – In 1999 the liabilities of the society jumped from $2,122 to $222,889. Nearly all of that amount was related to a Mortgage at Washington Federal Savings and Loan, however documents do not disclose the details or purpose of the mortgage.

9 - In 2000 Sea Shepherd reported income of $129,749 in consulting fees however there was no indication what sort of consulting this was, or for whom it was performed. Coincidentally, in the tax year immediately following, Paul Watson, who long prided himself in not taking any salary from the society, began doing just that.

10 – In 2003 the society made a grant of $8,000 to OrcaForce International. Even though the society’s tax return shows this amount as a contribution, OrcaForce is listed on the society’s web site as a Sea Shepherd International address.

FunkyPretty said...

I have to admit, I'm from Newfoundland, but since I was from an urban area, and none of my family worked in the fishery in any capacity, I really didn't "get" the whole seal hunt thing until university. In one of my classes years ago, we had to watch a video/documentary on seal hunting. I thought I would be appalled, but I was pleasantly surprised. Sure these activist groups always play up the cruel hunters who skin seals alive, but they are such a small percentage of the sealers that they should not be made to represent them all. After all, there are horrible and cruel humans no matter where you look, in any occupation, in any town. Some people skin other people, but I don't see protest groups for that.

For anyone interested, here is the DFO website with some interesting info. http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/seal-phoque/faq_e.htm

Anonymous said...

with regard to the report by Daoust et al, of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association in 2002, that shows 98% 'humane' kills of seal...opponents like to claim that its biased because he did 'some' of his work from a sealing vessel...that aspect is noted in the report, but the authors also rely heavily on data collected on about 176 skulls of seals that were killed 'before' they arrived...so, bias is removed. On the same topic, the IFAW report discusses how clubbing seals with a hakapik, when done properly, is humane. There concern was however that they believed it wasn't being done properly. SO for anti sealing groups to claim that clubbing is 'inherently cruel' is dishonest, or at least 'ill informed.'

Activists groups like to show videos of seals being killed and claim that they are being skinned alive...when in fact in most such clips that I saw (from 2005), showed alot of effort being put into killing teh seal before they skin it. What many activists claim to be a live seal, being skinned is actually a dead seal showing swim reflex.

Anonymous said...

NO matter what.. it's 2005 and we still hunt animals for their fur..What the hell is wrong with people thinking the idea of skinning a 12 day old seal will be a good profit career.. Thats completely pathetic. These animals are completely defenseless, they can't even run away. These hunters are more like cowards to me. There is just no excuse to hunt an animal for its fur, thats like saying oh I think that human has nice skin, lets skin it and wear it on our faces :D.. And saying that there is no other job to do..well gee...I see a bunch of snow and ice..IDEA HOW ABOUT WE GET SNOWPLOWS and shovels, and get the snow out of the roads and such for the city..OH MY GOD (job) hell there could be meteorites to dig up there and sell for good money. But after seeing a defenseless animal being skinned and being thrown on the ice until it has seizures , I have to say, clubbing them in the face with a flail wouldnt make me feel bad at all. But I can't do that because its not right, but it's right to kill the seals and polar bears, and coyotes and wolves.. This is not right at all. I'd love to see the day where a seal would acctually harm somebody. And about the seals and the Cod. Hey they're animals, they dont get to buy groceries , they acctually dont have any option, and they have to eat , so they HAVE to hunt. We DONT need to hunt, We can grow crops, and shop, no problem . Humans have options, wildlife doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Yet another sealer rant filled with baseless accusations which also omit any facts to back up their suspicions regarding the claims about seal defenders. Why is the seal hunt wrong? It is cruel backward and absolutley unnecessary. The seals and the cod did well enough before people began their campaign of mass slaughter. Look to your own and quit blaming those who cannot fight back.

Anonymous said...

To all you seal-slaughter loving scum out there.

Count me as another one of those rabid animal rights activists who doesn't like greasy, anything for-a-buck morally bankrupt
"organisms" the likes of baby-seal-killers.

Here's a reality check - all you fine seal-slaughter loving Newfies don't truly believe what comes out of that cut beneath your (collective) noses now do you? How about that BS term your kind likes to use: "harvesting"?!? Come off it, you can harvest a crop of wheat, you can harvest grapes to make wine, there are a million different things you can "harvest", a 12-day-old seal isn't one of them! However you can kill a defenseless baby animal who is incapable of defending itself, just as you could beat an old lady to the ground and steal her purse - SAY now there's a new line of work for unemployed Newfie seal killers! It's right up their alley and there could be good money in it...

But then using words like "harvest" instead of kill and "organism" instead of warm blooded baby animal make it easier for a certain minority to justify their sick line of work. If Newfie baby-seal-killers are truly proud of what they do they should at least have the guts to say it like it is, or are they incapable of this degree of honesty?

Too bad for their pointy-headed brethren that Newfoundland's seal bashing days are numbered. Have you ever stopped to wonder why their side doesn't have British Knights (Sir Paul McCartney), Hollywood Stars and massive NGO groups campaigning on their behalf? It's because anyone with half a brain and an ounce of talent has chosen a way to make a buck that doesn't involve beating up on defenseless animals and is sicked when their fellow "man" (read: subhuman) stoops this low. Yes indeed, leave it to the (genetic) scum at the bottom of the barrel to choose this line of work. Think about it! Consider the following sentence and the list of possible endings:

I make my living:

1.) diagnosing human illnesses
2.) building bridges and highways
3.) writing software programs
4.) surveying and mapping
5.) studying ancient civilizations
6.) teaching mathematics

and then last but not least here's a baby-seal-killers:

I make my living bludgeoning defenseless baby animals and then skinned not 2 weeks after they're born.

In fact tonight (dear seal-killer) when you're brushing your fangs and trying to drag a comb through the furry, matted mess of hair that extends unbroken above both your eyes take a good long look at yourself in the mirror and repeat: I profit from baby animals who are beaten to death... Real nice.

But don't forget this year we're going to lay the boots to this line of work, each day these low-lifes wake up another seafood buyer will be boycotting Canada until Canadian seafood becomes nothing more than a dirty word. Sooner or later we'll shut this atrocity down and on that day I'm going to celebrate and think of them.

Actually for what its worth a part of me feels truly sorry for these people, sorry that they just don't get it and sorry that their families have to live off these avails.

For all you seal-killers out there don't forget the old ladies purses, you're going to need something to fill the void...


Steve Thompson

Jessica said...

I am a 17 year old student conducting research for a school speech that I have chosen to do on the Seal Hunt and the Protests against it. I was pleased to read Myles Higgins report. But half of the contradictory comments sicken me to my stomache. Not because I am agreeing with them, but because they act in such a barbaric manner. We can all agree that Marie in Huskerland, USA behaved beautifully and humanely. I perfer not to discuss those who did not.

I personally think there are those human rights activists who 'handle' their opinions nicely, carrying out their lifestyle to oppose the acts of killing animals.

Many still say that the Seal Hunt is a prioritized objective for these animal rights activists. I have a few questions for them.

Would they be so disgusted with the seal hunt if those seals that were killed were adult seals? Because baby killers are words that are repeated throughout the points made by the opposition.

If the answer to the above question is a hesitant "no" I'm curious why.

If we are looking at these animals as having the same rights as humans then shouldn't we give them equal rights among all ages? Would we say that killing a 35 year old human is not as savage as killing a young baby of 4 weeks?

My opinion will not sway with organizations telling me that the Canadian Government is lieing to me. That is not feasable for me. I honestly hope that the seal hunt continues and becomes more efficiant in the means of death. I would hope that DFO would change the legal means of death, and limit it to only a gun rather than a club or a hacupik.

And lastly, if I have made any grammer mistakes during writing this through my fury, please don't tell me about it. It's a waste of your time and mine, and definitly will not sway me to oppose the seal hunt in any way.

One more thing, please don't call us Newfies.

Anonymous said...

It's so funny how People from any activist group are so sure that they are right and the rest of society is wrong. They will do and say anything to further their cause.

Why don't they pick up a cause that will really mean something to society (ie) child labour in third world countries, Terrorism in Iraq, nuclear issues from Iran and N korea. etc, etc. An other thing that is amazing to me is that these people place more value on baby seals than they would on lets say an unborn child. Oh by the by bringing in the media stars (such as, a former beatle) or just precieved star power really is not note worthy. I'm going to be swayed by people who live in a drug induced culture, who morals and values are supspect at best. Clean up your own back yard before you go after the rest of society, then and maybe then I might listen to what you have to say.

God I can't believe we live with such nonsence and dishonest people in this world. Truth is truly rare. These protest groups know they can't complete with it. For them, I believe it's an ego thing as well as a good business, the thousands of dollars they bring in for themselves.

Capitalism been good for you guys hasn't it.............after all business is business......

Johnnyseesitthisway said...

you are right. If we are going to make the world a better place, should we not start with human beings first? I will give you that the seal animal hunt is controversial, but what about the world human tragedies.... and we could name them with a blog all by itself. The money I seen spent for the Mcartneys to follow this hunt could have fed thousands of starving "human" children. Where the hell is the "common sense".

Anonymous said...

i am a 19 yr old from newfoundland canada. i think the seal hunt is very important to newfoundlanders, and we need it in order to survive. Its is not barbarric, they aren't killed with clubs, they are shot. They are not cuddly animals like most think, they are vicious and dangerous. The hunt is no threat to their population, the meat is very good to eat, and i dont think there is anything wrong with killing them. My family needs the seal hunt, its a main staple in our income, and we need it. I'd like for people to think about the people who depend on the seal hunt before they decide that it is so wrong.

Herb in Alberta said...

About 5,000 children died yesterday because of simple diarrhea. I guess they weren't cuddly enough for Sir Paul McCartney to worry himself about.

Do I think animals have rights? Certainly. Are those rights the same as we should respect for humans? Certainly not. I guess that makes me a barbarian. Even so, I'll put my effort into supporting groups trying to help the two million children living with HIV/AIDs before I get too upset with people trying to earn a living by killing a few thousand seals.

Anonymous said...

everything is connected and the human -first attitude is what is causing global warming but it doesn't seem that this group is much into science, only immediate gratification and self centered me-me and mine. The seal hunt is only one short sighted example among many other unevolved moves that men and women continue doing against other men, women and nature that is self destuctive but they are too ignorant,cold,greedy or shallow to realize it until it is too late. The greatest teachers,leaders,thinkers, innovators, scientest, philosophers and doctors throughout history have included animals, all creatures in compassionate statements and thought and action. Look up compassion under famous quotes and you might evolve outside yourself so that other conscious sentient beings can feel safe from people like you. Leo Tolstoy, Dr Albert Schweitzer, Mark Twain, St Francis of Assisi, Thomas Merton, William Penn,Charles Darwin, Buddha Siddhartha Gautoma, Ralph Waldo Emerson, George Bernard Shaw, Hippocrates, Leonardo Da Vinci, Franz Marc, Albert Einstein,Thomas Merton, John Stuart Mill, the list of humans who have helped us, changed us, influenced us and I would much rather take their bright words then your predictably dull interpritation of right and wrong. "Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace." Guess who said that? Hint...He was not From Newfoundland or Alberta or Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Isle.

educatednewfwholikesthetasteofseal said...

I'm a Newfoundland from a rural area now living in the capital, and I have just obtained my Arts degree from Memorial University. I must say, after reading some of the comments made by seal hunt protesters on this website, I am thouroughly disgusted. These people base their "facts" on lies which fundraising organsizations have started in order to raise money, and these organisations make more money off of the seal hunt than even the seal hunters do. Selfish selfish selfish. Don't tell me you actually care about endangered species (of which seals are not) because if you did than you would be trying to stop foriegn overfishing on the grand banks, not the harvesting of a population which is thriving. Although I do agree that the arguement that the seals are eating all the cod stocks is not a feasible one, I believe that the seal hunt should keep going. Maybe if the protesters actually came to newfoundland and talked to the hunters themselves, they would see that newfoundlanders respect their enviornment kill seals just as humanely as cattle are killed in a slaughterhouse. I think the clubning should be stopped, but the shooting of seals should continue. I for one am proud of Stephen Harper in his defense of Newfoundlanders. When he was first elected, alot of Newfoundlanders were worried that he would forget about the maritimes, instead focussing his attention of the richer provinces out west, but his defense of the seal hunt is admirable. And as for Pam Anderson, I think she got her answer to whether or not canadians supported the seal hunt when she got booed at the Junos for her ignorant comments. She was in the maritmes, did she really think she was going to get support?? I guess she probably doesnt even know where Halifax is (and don't say shes canadian so she must know, shes from BC, and I've met people from out west who can't even say Newfoundland, let alone point it out on the map).

Anonymous said...

I have lived in BC also and just about everyone up there does not know anything about the east coast. "east coast? hmm isnt that down near toronto? they havent got a dam clue.

Anonymous said...

And to add to that...pam anderson shes not a canadian anymore shes American now she turned her back on Canada along time ago cause "were" not good enough for her..As far as im concerned, I dont care do you?

Proud To Be Canadian, All for Seal Hunt said...

I am from Blanc-Sablon Quebec, where the people would not let the journalists and activists leave their hotel to film the seal hunt. First let me start by saying that I do not believe we should be ashamed of what some Canadians do to put food on the table and money in their pockets to support their families. Yes, we east coasters EAT SEAL! I am very fond of seal pie and seal stew, and I also accompany my husband when he hunts for seal. I am appalled by the way the USHS has portrayed us and I only wish the could have come to my house for a delicious seal dinner! On a more serious note, nothing peeves me more than a misinformed opinion about what the seal hunt is like, or the editing of footage by the USHS showing a man hit and drag as seal, which as we seal hunters know, it was a man hooking the seal and dragging it back to the boat after he already SHOT it! Secondly, who really cares what Pam Anderson and Sir Paul have to say? I know I don't. Using your celebrity satus to persuade the masses is just another way to regain your 5 minutes of fame when you are becoming a washed up has been, in the future it'll be another case of Paul who? Pam who? As long as we can my family and community will continue the hunt and enjoy, not take for granted, the delicious taste of a fresh out of the oven seal pie, recipe as follows:

Title: Seal Flipper Pie
Yield: 1 Servings

Ingredients

3 seal flippers
1 very thin slices of fatback
1 pork
2 inches of water
5 onions, sliced
2 cn beef stock or
3 oxo cubes in
2 c water
2 ts savory
2 ts worcestershire sauce
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1 turnip
1 potatoes
1 flour to thicken
1 crust:
3 c flour
6 ts baking powder
1/4 ts salt
1/4 lb margarine
1 1/2 c milk

Instructions

Note: Skinned turres (a seabird, also known as murres) preboiled for
25 minutes in plain water, may be substituted.

1. Meticulously remove all fat from 3 seal flippers

2. Cover bottom of heavy skillet with very thin slices of fatback
pork.

3. Render the fat, then sear the well-seasoned flippers.

4. To a roasting pan add: 2 inches of water (5 cm if using metric
flippers (sic? measure); 4-5 onions, sliced; 2 cans beef stock or 3
Oxo cubes in 2 cups water; 1 - 2 teaspoons savory; 1 - 2 teaspoons
Worcestershire sauce

5. Add flippers, fatback and cook UNCOVERED for about 1 1/2 hours at
325 degrees F. At this stage the meat should be tender and the bones
can be removed if desired. Add carrot, parsnip, turnip or whatever
plus more water if required; cook an additional 20 minutes. Add
potatoes and cook a further 20 minutes or so. Add flour to thicken.

Crust: 3 cups flour 6 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt Cut
in 1/4 lb. margarine, rub through fingers until stage of fine crumbs
then add 1 1/2 cups milk. Mix with spoon/hands, roll lightly, cover
flippers etc. in pan or dish. Cook at 375-400 degrees F until browned
(about 20 minutes).

ENJOY!!!!!

Abbyail said...

Myth and fact of Canadian seal Hunt:


Myth #1: The Canadian government allows sealers to kill whitecoat seals.
Reality: The image of the whitecoat harp seal is used prominently by seal hunt opponents. This image gives the false impression that vulnerable seal pups are targeted by sealers during the commercial hunt.

The hunting of harp seal pups (whitecoats) and hooded seal pups (bluebacks) is illegal – and has been since 1987. Marine Mammal Regulations prohibit the trade, sale or barter of the fur of these pups. Furthermore, adult seals cannot be harvested when they are in breeding or birthing grounds and younger seals must be weaned, self-reliant and independent.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Myth #2: Seals are being skinned alive.
Reality: A 2002 independent veterinarians’ report published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal and numerous reports mentioned by the Malouf Commission (1987) indicate that this is not true.

Sometimes a seal may appear to be moving after it has been killed; however seals have a swimming reflex that is active – even after death. This reflex gives the false impression that the animal is still alive when it is clearly dead – similar to the reflex in chickens.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Myth #3: The club – or hakapik – is a barbaric and inhumane tool that has no place in today’s world.
Reality: Hunting methods were studied by the Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing in Canada and it found that the clubbing of seals, when properly performed, is at least as humane as, and often more humane than, the killing methods used in commercial slaughterhouses, which are accepted by the majority of the public.

Clubs have been used by sealers since the onset of the hunt hundreds of years ago. Hakapiks originated with Norwegian sealers who found it very effective. American studies carried out between 1969 and 1972 proved that the club or hakapik is an efficient tool designed to kill the animal quickly and humanely. A 2002 report published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal had results that parallel these findings.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Myth #4: The Canadian government is allowing sealers to kill thousands of seals to help with the recovery of cod stocks.
Reality: Several factors have contributed to the lack of recovery of Atlantic cod stocks, such as fishing effort, poor growth and physical condition of the fish, and environmental changes.

In addition, there are many uncertainties in the estimates of the amount of fish consumed by seals. The commercial quota is established on sound conservation principles, not an attempt to assist in the recovery of groundfish stocks.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Myth #5: The hunt is unsustainable and is endangering the harp seal population.
Reality: Since the 1960’s, environmental groups have been saying the seal hunt is unsustainable. In fact, the harp seal population is healthy and abundant. According to a 2004 survey, the Northwest Atlantic harp seal population is now estimated at approximately 5.8 million animals, nearly triple what it was in the 1970s.

DFO sets quotas at levels that ensure the health and abundance of seal herds. In no way are seals - and harp seals in particular – an “endangered species”.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Myth #6: The seal hunt provides such low economic return for sealers that it is not an economically viable industry.
Reality: The 2005 seal hunt was one of the most profitable in memory. Given favourable market conditions in 2005, the landed value of the harp seal hunt exceeded $16.5 million.

Seals are a significant source of income for some individual sealers and for thousands of families in Eastern Canada at a time of year when other fishing options are limited at best, in many remote, coastal communities. Sealing also creates employment opportunities for buying and processing plants.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Myth #7: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) provides subsidies for the seal hunt.
Reality: DFO does not subsidize the seal hunt. Sealing is an economically viable industry. All subsidies ceased in 2001. Even before that time, any subsidies provided were for market and product development, including a meat subsidy, to encourage full use of the seal. In fact, government has provided much less subsidization to the sealing industry than recommended by the Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Myth #8: The seal hunt is loosely monitored and DFO doesn’t punish illegal hunting activity or practices.
Reality: The seal hunt is closely monitored and tightly regulated. Fishery Officers conduct surveillance of the hunt by means of aerial patrols, surface (vessel) patrols, dockside inspections of vessels at landing sites and inspections at buying and processing facilities.

Infractions are taken seriously and sealers who fail to comply with Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations are penalized. The consequences of such illegal actions could include court-imposed fines and the forfeiting of catches, fishing gear, vessels and licences.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Myth #9: The majority of Canadians are opposed to the seal hunt.
Reality: Animal rights groups currently campaigning against the seal hunt cite a 2004 Ipsos‑Reid poll stating that the majority of Canadians are opposed to the hunt. In fact, Canadians support federal policies regarding the seal hunt. An Ipsos-Reid survey conducted in February 2005 concluded that 60% of Canadians are in favour of a responsible hunt.

Mike Anderson said...

We in Canada DON'T need celebrities and bloodsucking "activists" telling us how to run our country! We can remain strong if we unite and support each other. My blessings and good wishes go out to my brothers and sisters in Newfoundland & Labrador, keep believing in yourselves and each other, to hell with special-interest groups, non-scientists parroting "facts" that have no basis in reality, and fat-arsed actresses who need to justify their vast wealth and gold-plated lifestyle by bashing honest working people and ramming their opinions down others' throats!

Mike in Vancouver - not all useless hippies out here as you can see :)

Anonymous said...

I think the seal hunting is wrong, there is no reason to kill poor harmless animals to make a little extra cash. They did nothing to deserve such cruel, unimaginable treatment.