Feds dismiss new iPhone app targeting Canada's 'slaughter of baby seals'

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The Humane Society of the United States has released an iPhone app directed at boycotting Canadian seafood.

By Sheila Dabu Nonato

Postmedia News

The Canadian government is dismissing a provocative new iPhone app set up by the Humane Society of the United States that is aggressively targeting Canada’s seal industry as a recycled campaign of “old tricks” and “misinformation.”

The society is calling for a boycott of all Canadian seafood products until the Canadian government ends the so-called “cruel” and “needless” slaying of baby seals.

A spokeswoman for Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield told Postmedia News in an email that this recent campaign is spreading “misinformation.”

“We believe that consumers should be free to make their own purchasing decisions based on the facts — that Canadian seafood products are among the best in the world and that the seal harvest is sustainable, humane, and profitable,” she said.

Anti-sealing activists launched a similar campaign in 2005 which failed, the spokesperson noted in an email.

“Many large American purchasers of Canadian seafood did not join the 2005 campaign after learning the facts about the hunt,” she said.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, 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.”

The “protect seals” app is a free resource available on iPhone and soon will be available on other smartphones. The app was launched Thursday at a splashy event in San Francisco, which included American chefs under the banner of “Chefs for Seals” and “America’s Next Top Model” photographer Nigel Barker.

The event “drew attention to the plight of seals on Canada’s East Coast and spotlighted the more than 100 compassionate chefs in the Bay Area who have joined in trying to save them,” the group said in a statement.

“The many Bay Area chefs who have joined The Humane Society of the United States boycott of Canadian seafood are sending a clear message to Canada’s fishing industry that its commercial seal slaughter must end now,” said John Grandy, the society’s senior vice-president of wildlife. “With the launch of the iPhone app, consumers have a quick and easy way to bring their economic power to bear against this annual slaughter.”

On its website, the Fisheries Department notes that Canada’s seal harvesting practices are “among the best in the world,” guided by rigorous internationally recognized animal-welfare principles which are enforced by the government “to the fullest extent of the law.”

The Canadian government will work with American companies and consumers to ensure they’re getting the “real facts about Canada’s sealing industry,” according to Ashfield’s spokeswoman.

“Veterinarians have found that the tools used by sealers are at least as humane, and often more humane than, the killing methods used in commercial slaughterhouses, which are accepted by the majority of the public,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Sealers Association declares on its website that baby seals are never harvested in Canada, where the practice has been banned since 1987.

In an online post called “Myths And Realities: The Atlantic Canada Seal Hunt,” the association said, “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.”

The Atlantic Canada-based association was formed in 1982 “in response to negative publicity against the sealing industry by some animal rights groups,” according to its website.

It represents more than 6,000 sealers who are professional fishers licensed by the Canadian government.

Canadian sealers harvested 40,000 seals in 2011 when the government quota was set at 335,000, according to the Canadian Sealers Association.


Organizations: The Humane Society of the United States, Postmedia News, Canadian Sealers Association Fisheries Department Atlantic Canada Seal Hunt

Geographic location: Canada, Bay Area, San Francisco America East Coast

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Recent comments

  • Harp Seal
    March 01, 2012 - 09:31

    Can H$U$ explain why 78% of the the restaurants on the list doesn't even know they're on the list. H$U$ is in it for the money. Just ask the ENDANGERED MONK SEAL. All H$U$ is doing for the monk seal is stating that they're endangered on there website. WOW! Like all AR groups they focus on the bleeding hearts and the hate mongers because there's someone to blame. Ask Paul Watson. In 1978, he said that the harp seal is the most profitable animal next to the whale for animal rights groups.

  • Theresa Nolet
    February 29, 2012 - 11:46

    The comment in the article "“Veterinarians have found that the tools used by sealers are at least as humane, and often more humane than, the killing methods used in commercial slaughterhouses, which are accepted by the majority of the public,” she said." is not true as most of the public are unaware of how the meat on their plate is raised and slaughtered and the producers want to keep it that way, by making their facilities like off limits to almost everyone. Big Ag is trying to get Animal Terrorist laws into place to make it illegal for anyone to even take a photo of the outside of the buildings, let alone reveal the tortures that occur inside!

  • wake-up
    February 29, 2012 - 10:23

    The seal hunt needs to go away - there is no 'real' demand for products and whether it is hypocritical or not for society to accept factory farming practises over the seal hunt doesnt minimize the fact it is just a publicity nightmare for NL. The economic value is simply not there and never will be .

  • Gerry
    February 28, 2012 - 16:53

    there are more world trading partners than our neighbours to the south & some sanctemonious members of the EU who I am sure are willing to buy Canadian goods....

  • Stanton G
    February 28, 2012 - 15:03

    Lots of dizzying information from article and source to the other. The world is turning is away from seal products. We can argue why but there are some obvious issues. We need to accept the direction of societal evolution and find better ways to to create industry and thus income. Why can't we take a lead on ending this practice instead of kicking and screaming?

  • Copernicus
    February 28, 2012 - 14:39

    I'm working on an aggressive campaign in Saskatchewan to boycott any store that have petitions to end the seal hunt on their counter, especially when they are still using images of whitecoats. Such foolishness.

    • JOND
      February 28, 2012 - 14:56

      & I will work to counter your effort, thanking any operation for their help in stopping this needless and disgusting operation. We've outgrown in and it's time to face the facts. It's a self centered inhumane living. the videos shot every year show the reality and we're done with it! i will promote these stores you try to boycott. good luck!

    • shirley ryan
      February 28, 2012 - 20:00

      why on earth would people worry somuch about animalswhen people are dying is beyond me. seals are eating our cod, thereforeno fishing in bfld and lab. becauseofthis, are you all idiots????????????????/

  • Political watcher
    February 28, 2012 - 13:47

    Boycott Canadian seafood; let them. I am sure that they will truly enjoy all the lovely Gulf seafood that BP have delivered to them. The last time they did this they had several restaurants listed as supporters of th boycott but yet in advertisements the restaurants clearly identified some of their seafood as Canadian.

  • Bryan Webster
    February 28, 2012 - 13:43

    It is hardly anybody's surprise to see the news media hyping this stupid app on top of any kind of logical value associated with it.

  • Jean Beairsto
    February 28, 2012 - 12:30

    The united states kill their stock of pigs cattle etc when tget get old I am sure that you can get back at them by letting them know that we have to recycle just as they do .It is to protect the young and the cod is getting scarce and the young has to be fed .Isnt it the same with failing farm animals

  • Jeremiah
    February 28, 2012 - 11:25

    If these people can launch an effective "misinformation" campaign, why can't the Govt. of Canada issue an equally effective "information" campaign? Surely we have more resources! Lacking political will perhaps?