Seal hunt’s fate sealed by latest WTO ‘ethics’ decision

Patrick
Patrick Butler
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Last Monday, a World Trade Organization panel decided to uphold the European Union’s ban on Canadian seal products. It’s the latest addition to a string of blows to the struggling seal hunt over the past few years.

But if there is anything to be learned from this most recent setback, it’s that in the fight to keep the seal hunt viable, Canada is losing the publicity war.

This is old news, of course. But it takes on a new primacy when the WTO, an international trade-

regulating body, can rule that the ban is enforceable based on “ethical” reasons. If moral considerations the government has been fighting for years are being given binding consideration internationally, it becomes especially clear that the Canadian seal hunt lobby is fighting a losing battle.

The ethical grounds cited by the WTO, those rooted in the same pseudo-morality that spurred the ban (now widely supported by the European public, it is worthy to note) are the result of years of

misinformation from animal rights groups and the all-too-willing bleeding hearts of Hollywood.

They are the upshot of countless smear campaigns from the likes of Pamela Anderson, Jude Law and others world-renowned for their seminal contributions to science.

It is because of these “activists” that the celebrity bandwagon cries out against seal hunters’ thoughtless slaughter every time they see yet another photo of a seraphic seal pup plastered beneath the headlines. And it is because of these same people that the international public, basing its beliefs on a supposed moral high ground, rails against the Canadian government for permitting what it considers unnecessary inhumane animals culls.

These are the Mother Teresas who have infected the international community with the anti-sealing fervour that encouraged the WTO’s ruling.

McDouble standard

All the while, this very same public, which salivates at the prospect of an end to the seal hunt, scarfs

down the latest Whopper, box of McNuggets or whatever other product of industrialized agriculture any of us consume on a regular basis.

The power of persuasion never ceases to amaze.

After the WTO handed down its decision, Terry Audla, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents 55,000 Canadian Inuit said, “They’re basing it on public morals … I mean, who’s to say what’s more cruel? Industrialized agriculture? The poultry, pork and beef industry?

“Who draws the line?”

And who knows, really?

But my bet is that the chicken and beef industry lobbies of Washington and Brussels are far more powerful than any seal hunt advocates.

Denouncing the seal hunt is perhaps made easier by the lack of seal meat on the menu at Burger King or the fact that most people associate seals with circus rings.

But no matter the reason, there is undoubtedly a detachment between seal-based products and the international public, and this complements efforts to denounce the hunt based on ethical concerns.

The seal hunt is an easy target for international animal rights groups, what with all the adorable baby seal pictures and the high shock value of the bloodstained pack ice left behind by the hunt. So it’s innocent enough to be fooled at first when activists play on one’s senses by warping of the truth.

However, once the message of an allegedly inhumane seal hunt pervades public opinion to the point that an international organization treats it as worthy of consideration, it becomes altogether clear that in the battle against misinformation, those on the side of the seal hunt are bleeding from the head.

It’s one thing for PETA or Pam Anderson to spew crap about Canadian sealers, but it is quite another when an organization like the WTO marginalizes the seal hunt based on what international public opinion deems credible ethical concerns.

Patrick Butler, who’s from Conception Bay South, is enrolled in the journalism

 program at Carleton University.

He can be reached by email

at patrickbutler5@yahoo.ca.

Organizations: WTO, Burger King, Carleton University

Geographic location: Canada, Hollywood, Washington Brussels

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  • H Jefford
    December 30, 2013 - 22:57

    The world Trade Organization panel decision to uphold the European unions ban on seal products, Clearly shows this Organization did not investigate the damage the massive seal herd is doing to the largest food source in the world, THE FISH STOCK, COD,CRAB,SALMON, ETC. There are millions of Hungry seals hunting like a pack of Wolves, destroying the fish stock, fishermen has pulled up crab pots to find seals dead ,stuck and drowned in the pots trying to get at the crab, NTV has a news clip of seals herding live fish upon the beach & people picking up live fish on the beach. The great seal herd is destroying all kinds of fish stock Trout,salmon,crab,Cod,The List Goes On & ON THEY ARE NOT CUTE, THEY ARE Parisites of the sea

  • Don
    December 04, 2013 - 14:50

    The author is obviously a talking head for the baby seal killing industry. No conservation or honest industry condones the killing of ANY non-adult species because that only reduces future catches. I am all for using resources, so long as the use sustains FUTURE resources. The only reason for killing baby seals is for their skins. I ask, is this a valid need?

  • Don
    December 04, 2013 - 13:19

    The author is obviously a talking head for the baby seal killing industry. No conservation or honest industry condones the killing of ANY non-adult species because that only reduces future catches. I am all for using resources, so long as the use sustains FUTURE resources. The only reason for killing baby seals is for their skins. I ask, is this a valid need?

    • david
      December 05, 2013 - 10:07

      I ask you: Do people need more than one car? Do people need 2500 square foot houses? Do people need walk-in closets full of clothes? Do people need handguns and AK-47s? These are much more important issues for North America and the world. But the self-righteous love to pick their spots.....and this piddly and completely contrived one is quite literally pure gold.

  • Cashin Delaney
    December 02, 2013 - 21:26

    The columnist seems to know little more about the broad implications of this ban than the mighty actors he references, and is just as guilty as they are of spinning a skewed yarn to suit their ideology. I submit that the ideology of the writer in this case is balance. "But my bet is that the chicken and beef industry lobbies of Washington and Brussels are far more powerful than any seal hunt advocates." The old balanced media approach here with beef and chicken being compared to seal meat. If not for the global beef-chicken conspiracy, the entire world would be dining on sea dog I suppose? "undoubtedly (sic) a detachment between seal-based products and the international public" There is no market for the few products and if there was demand, people would have no problem ignoring the annoying activists and we wouldn't be begging China to take the meat off our hands. There are annoying activists who champion the animals that taste awesome too, but we seem to ignore them very well. Seals taste terrible, no one wants to eat them except hardcore traditional Inuk, Metis and (Townies will eat a flipper to Baymen. The commercial seal hunt will slowly fad away, we needn't worry about actors or their activists causing it, they will just cheer its decline. Don't worry about Jude Law handcuffing himself to a sealer anytme soon. "All the while, this very same public, which salivates at the prospect of an end to the seal hunt, scarfs down the latest Whopper, box of McNuggets or whatever other product of industrialized agriculture any of us consume on a regular basis." Another balancing act that compares seal meat to angus beef. Do I need to make jokes about Dandy Stan opening his seal flipper franchises across Eurasia? I wonder why this journalist nor Gerry Byrne mention the infamous Mink in all this....another aquatic mammal kiiled for fashion. Lets buy John Crosbie that mink bowtie boys......

    • Gil Theriault
      December 04, 2013 - 10:16

      C. Delaney obviously knows nothing about seal meat which top chef like Todd Perrin, winner of Top Chef Canada and other well know figure like Anthony Bourdain and many others are thrill to cook and serve. Of course, if your culinary horizon stops at fish and chips, seal will be out of reach.

  • jack
    December 02, 2013 - 13:22

    Maybe Pam Anderson should stick to her sex tapes,what a great influence she is on the world.Anyway i'm giving her attention, she doesn't deserve, so just leave us Newfoundlanders alone.

  • Stan
    December 02, 2013 - 13:00

    The soloution to this has always been simple. Just hit them in their wallets! Why doesn't Canada simply ban the import of goods from their countries. Nothing too complicated about that is there? Then we would see who is winning the media war.

  • Huck
    December 02, 2013 - 11:50

    WTO - An acronym for worthless, toothless, and opaque.

  • david
    December 02, 2013 - 10:50

    Personally, I think this decision could be a gift. It provides a clear opportunity to launch a very reasonable class action lawsuit against the WTO for damages. The rationale for this ruling has no basis in law, and the EU itself has provided the smoking gun in its language. It seeks to impose its own standard of morality on a sovereign nation using economic sanctions, which is beyond its legal mandate and obligations. And it would seem to me that if the EU really wants to stand on the high horse of "morality and ethics", it really shouldn't have a hard time coughing up a paltry $100 million. Otherwise, exposing them as cheapskate opportunistic political panderers would be worth the trouble. Win win.