At long last we are beginning to see the light at the end of what has been a very long and dark tunnel. There is more and more talk of the Annual Seal Hunt going the way of the whaling industry that once thrived in Canada, and for good reason. Despite the Canadian governments protestations to the contrary this Annual hunt IS cruel. It has to take place at such a pace that there is no time to check if an animal is either dead or irreversibly unconscious. An extraordinary number of animals are gaffed, hauled and skinned alive, and for what? For a product that is no longer commercially viable and is recognised throughout the world as being inhumanely harvested. Yet still questions are asked, and quite rightly so, no one should ‘follow’ blindly on such an important issue as this. The following is a link to a site I found on the Internet. It answers all the main questions asked honestly and fairly, and I strongly recommend that you go to the site for the verification references of their material. The site can be found at http://liberationbc.org/issues/seal_hunt#footnote3_wimxccz I have however, transcribed the question and answers part here, but without the verifications.
“The Canadian Seal Hunt
Canada’s annual commercial seal hunt, which occurs in March and April, is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on the planet. The government has placed the total allowable catch for 2012 at 400,000. (In reality, it is doubted that the figure will be this high, and is more likely to be in the region of 30k, although figures are very difficult to ascertain due to unrecorded ‘lost’ seals, those which, even though mortally wounded, slip back into the water, those that are shot in the water and those that are crushed to death by the ice breaker ships, it has been quoted that a further 38% or more can be added to the overall slaughter total due to these reasons. – brackets mine)
Isn’t it illegal to kill baby seals now?
No. It’s only illegal to kill baby seals under the age of 11 days old, when they are known as “whitecoats”. At 12 days of age or so, the pups begin to lose their white fur and it becomes legal to kill them. For the last ten years or so, 95% of the seals killed during the commercial hunt have been “beaters”–seals between 12 days and 3 months old. In 2007, the percentage was 98%. Sealers prefer to kill these young seals because their pelts fetch the highest prices.
Do native people depend on the seal hunt to survive?
Not at all. There are no Inuit involved in the commercial seal hunt. In fact, the species of seal targeted during the hunt is known as the harp seal. The Canadian government allows for the slaughter of about 300,000 every March and April. The Inuit favour adult ring seals, and kill only about 10,000 annually.
A letter from Arnaituk M. Tarkirk, an Inuit man from Kuujjuak, Quebec:
We have been hearing all about the European vote to ban the importation of seal products from the so-called seal hunt. I am an Inuk and I would like to say what I think about this. Peter Ittinuur, Northwest Territory MP, has been saying that this vote will put a lot of Inuit on welfare. This is stupid. The money from the hunt goes to Norway mostly and has nothing to do with the Inuit. We are skillful hunters who hunt adult animals for food, That is not the same as bashing a pup, which can’t move, over the head. In fact, if the seal hunt stopped, we would benefit the most. There would be 180,000 more seals left for us to eat when they are a few years older, and also people would not have such an aversion to sealskin products as they have after seeing the way they kill the pups, so craft work made with adult seals would be more popular. The Hudson Bay Company and the government are just using the Inuit to further their own purposes. I am surprised Peter Ittinuur, whom I know, could allow himself to be used like that. I know people who are against the seal hunt, and they are not against the Inuit.
I am an Inuk, and I oppose the seal hunt.
The Canadian government maintains that the hunt is humane. Is this true?
No. Seals are smashed over the head with a tool known as the hakapik (a club with a large metal spike attached) or shot with a rifle. The animals are then dragged across the ice and skinned, often while still alive. Sealers are competing for a limited number of seals in a limited amount of time, so they work quickly to get as many pelts as they can.
A study conducted in 2001 by an independent team of scientists concluded that the recommended regulations for humane hunting and killing were being neither enforced nor followed, and that 42 percent of seals were being skinned alive.
As of 2008, the Canadian government made an unsuccessful attempt to stave off a European Union ban on seal products by presenting a “new” set of rules meant to ensure a humane death:
1.Stun – render seal unconscious
2.Check – test blinking reflex to ensure seals are irreversibly unconscious
3.Bleed – cut main artery to ensure seal bleeds out
Numbers 1 and 2 have long been “recommended regulations” of the Canadian government, and as indicated previously, they are neither enforced nor applied by the majority of sealers. Additionally, it is still legal to shoot seals in the water, where none of these three rules can be followed.
The sealers hit five, six, seven, sometimes up to eight or nine seals in a row and then take their time, going back and skinning and bleeding out the seals. Eventually they get to the first seal they might have hit. That period can last up to six to 10 minutes. It’s terrible. Some of the scenes we have seen are of immense cruelty. Seals screaming, wiggling round in pain and bleeding, and crying out.
Is the seal hunt sustainable?
No, and it’s getting less sustainable as time goes on due to global warming. Over the past 10 years, between half and two-thirds of seal pups have been slaughtered by commercial sealers. The ice cover is rapidly disappearing, and many pups do not learn to swim before the ice melts beneath them. A 2012 study at Duke University showed that ice cover has declined by 6 percent since 1979, when satellite records of the region began.
As a result, most seal pups are dying before the hunt even begins. In 2007, a government study found that there was a nearly 100 percent mortality rate among newborn seals that year.8 In 2010, the mortality rate was estimated to be 70%, and in 2011, 80%. The government has set a total allowable catch at 400,000 in 2012, but it seems unlikely that this number will be reached; in 2011, only about 40,000 seals were killed, in 2010, 67,000, and in 2009, 74,000. As recently as 2008, however, the total kill was 217,000, despite the fact that government scientists estimated the replacement yield for that year (the number of seals that can be killed while still allowing the species to maintain its population) to be 165,000.
Aren’t the seals eating the cod that Newfoundland fishers rely on to survive?
No. In fact, young cod makes up only 3 percent of the seals’ diet. The majority of their diet actually consists of fish and squid that prey on young cod; therefore, removing the seals from the equation may actually result in more cod disappearing as predatory fish flourish. The currently low cod population is the result of poor management on the part of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Even the Department of Fisheries and Oceans admits that the seal hunt has no positive impact on cod population, explaining that the hunt is “…not an attempt to assist in the recovery of groundfish stocks…Seals eat cod, but seals also eat other fish that prey on cod.”
Do my taxes support the seal hunt?
Yes. Over 20 million dollars in government subsidies were provided to the Canadian sealing industry between 1995 and 2001. And while tracking subsidies to the sealing industry is difficult because the information is not public, $400,000 in government subsidies were granted as recently as 2004 to two sealing companies. After the European Union announced a ban on harp seal products in 2009, economist John Livernois found that ending the seal hunt would save Canada a minimum of $6.9 million per year.
The sealers are using the meat, though, right? At least nothing goes to waste.
Actually, most of the seal goes to waste. Some of the penises are sold as aphrodisiacs in Asia, and the oil is sold as a health supplement. The blubber is sometimes collected, but a 2006 study by Memorial University discovered that 80% of it is simply discarded. Meanwhile, the meat of the seal rots on the ice, as it is generally considered inedible and unfit for human consumption. On its website, the Canadian government admits that “finding a market for seal meat outside of Newfoundland continues to present a major challenge for the sealing industry.”
And as a result of an increasing intolerance for the seal hunt, much of the fur is being wasted as well. The European Union banned the importation of harp seal products in 2009, shrinking the global market considerably, and in 2012, Russia is poised to follow suit. 90 percent of Canada’s exports of harp seal pelts have gone to Russia in the past. (Russia has now banned the importation of Harp Seal skins – brackets mine) Currently, there are 400,000 harp seal skins sitting in inventory, unable to be sold.
What would the sealers do for money if the hunt ended?
The people who work as part of the commercial seal hunt are fishers 95% of the year; seal hunting makes up only a fraction of their annual income. As recently as 2005, hunters earned, on average, between $1,929 and $2,130; in 2008, they were earning only $11 to $221.
Even the seal hunters admit it isn’t an economic boost. Sealer Desmond Hunt is quoted as saying, “We all go out for the love of it rather than the money, which isn’t there anymore.” The number of seal hunters dropped from 5600 in 2006 to just 225 in 2011.
In fact, due to massive boycotts of Newfoundland and Canadian seafood worldwide, ending the hunt could only increase profits in the area. According to 2006 reports, Canadian snow crab imports to the United States have dropped by $160 million due to the Canadian seafood boycott – this is more than ten times the money the seal hunt brings in.
HSUS has to date persuaded almost 3,600 U.S. businesses to participate, including heavy hitters Publix (annual sales $24-billion), Whole Foods ($7-billion), WinCo Foods, Lowe’s Foods, Harris Teeter ($3-billion each) and smaller, seafood-driven ones like Legal Sea Foods ($400-million). (The humane Society of the United States, along with Nigel Barker and supporters who have banded together as “Chefs for Seals,” launched the new iPhone app, empowering consumers to help save seals in danger. The app allows users to locate restaurants and food suppliers who support boycotting Canadian seafood products until the country ends its annual slaughter of baby seals. – submitted by HSUS to Opposing Views.com, brackets mine.) Sealing creates less than 1% of the value of the sealing provinces’ fishery. Sacrifice 99% for the sake of 1%. Now there’s a business plan! –Jeff White
Are there sustainable AND profitable alternatives to the seal hunt?
Yes. With global warming and at the rate that seals are being killed, there won’t be enough left to hunt in a few years. It is far more sustainable to explore ecotourism as an attraction for the area.
Since Canada banned commercial whale hunting in the 1970′s, the whale-watching industry has grown considerably and is now worth more than the seal hunt.
“Years ago, the Canadian government successfully turned its commercial whale hunt into a multimillion-dollar whale-watching industry, and there is absolutely no reason the government cannot do the same with seals,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS. “By continuing this appalling and inhumane hunt, the government is turning what should be an economic asset — the world’s largest migration of these highly charismatic marine mammals — into a liability. The new economies of the major nations of the world will be built around sustainable and humane practices, not the reckless exploitation of wildlife and natural resources.” ”
I sincerely hope that this will be the very last time I personlly have to post about the Annual Canadian Seal Hunt. There is no reason on earth why it should continue as a commercial venture on such a horrific and large scale. True, there will always be those who take such perverse pleasure out of clubbing animals to death that there will be an element of licensed ‘hunting’ and poaching. As can be seen from the above the only sensible way to go is Eco-tourism, and I for one can’t wait to book my ticket to see those beautiful pristine nursery flows giving birth to life, with no more bloodied ice, no more screams of agony, and no more senseless and cruel slaughter.
Harp seal mother with her new pup