The Canadian Seal Hunt
Commentary by veteran Sea Shepherd crewmember Shannon Mann
For years, the Canadian seal hunt has been a controversial issue among environmental and animal welfare groups. The focus of this controversy stems from the fact that baby harp seals are clubbed to death – some even skinned alive – for their pelts. I would challenge anyone who feels that this is a humane hunt to go and witness the massacre for themselves.
In 2008, while on board the Farley Mowat, Sea Shepherd did just that. For several weeks we followed sealing vessels and took video footage of grown men killing baby seals. I won’t go into the gory details, but the video we collected was littered with violations and heinous cruelty. I can only imagine what must happen when there are no witnesses or cameras.
After reviewing evidence from our campaign, the European Parliament concluded that the hunt was, in fact, inhumane and banned the importation of seal products from the commercial seal hunt.
Aside from its inhumane nature, the “hunt” continues to be a drain for Canadian taxpayer dollars. A few years ago, an article exposing the economics of the hunt appeared in The National Post – one of Canada’s leading newspapers. Even then Canadians were (whether they knew/agreed with it or not) substantially subsidizing the hunt. After the European ban, pelt prices dropped drastically, which meant that even more taxpayer money was dedicated to financing the seal slaughter.
I recently visited the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website and was shocked at the (mis)information presented there. They have stated that:
“Seals are a valuable natural resource, and the seal harvest is an economic mainstay for numerous rural communities in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the North.”
We know this is not true. Seals are also not a vegetable to be “harvested.”
The website goes on to say:
The Government of Canada (GOC) has strict science-based regulations, which are reviewed regularly, to ensure a humane harvest.”
It is interesting, then, that the European Parliament deemed it so inhumane that they ban the import of the resulting pelts. Numerous independent biologists and veterinarians from around the world have traveled to the ice to witness the hunt and have come to the same conclusion.
“The seal harvest is closely monitored and tightly regulated.”
From our experience, we know that this is simply laughable.
“Individuals who believe they have witnessed an infraction of the Marine Mammal Regulations should bring any relevant information to the attention of their local Fisheries and Oceans Canada office.”
Of course, what they fail to mention is that it is actually ILLEGAL to bear witness to this hunt without a permit. Good luck getting one and if you do, they will tell you where to go and when.
This is a dying industry that casts an embarrassing shadow on the majority of Canadians. Let’s rally for the seals and eliminate this senseless slaughter and waste of taxpayer dollars.
Do you agree? Sign this petition!