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Letter: Save our seal(er)s

A sealing vessel moves along the edge of an icefield in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
A sealing vessel moves along the edge of an icefield in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The population of harp seals off Canada’s East Coast is about 7.5 million. For over 50 years, marine mammal scientists have studied the herd, and from this science annual quotas are set. During this period, the herd has more than tripled in size.

The seals we hunt are fully weaned and independent. Harp seal dames feed their offspring for 11 to 15 days and leave them; they are not helicopter parents. The use of anthropomorphic words like “baby” is merely heart-tugging propaganda.

Harp seals are not now, nor have they ever been, listed by any reputable conservation agency as being endangered or threatened.

Canadian sealers are trained and are licensed. About 99 per cent of seals are killed by a rifle shot to the head, causing instant death. We don’t often miss; think Annie Oakley.

The only study portraying the killing as inhumane was paid for by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and conducted by a group of British vets and was never peer-reviewed, as is customary with studies of this kind. Every other study, including one by the International Veterinary Group, has found the hunt to operate as humanely as any slaughterhouse in the Western World.

We use everything we can of the animal — meat, pelt, fat for oils and Omega 3. What we cannot use we leave on the ice or in the water as food for marine mammals, birds, fish and crustaceans. The products we produce are natural and sustainable. We work in an eco-friendly manner that is environmentally sound. We are so green that Kermit would blush.

We are aware of the potential of global warming to change our environment. As responsible hunters, we will adapt as required, and the seals will as well.

There is only one seal hunt in Canada and that is a commercial hunt based upon earning a living. The people of Nunavut, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador all hunt seals the same way for the same reason. Some of the animal goes to personal use and some is sold for income.

Anti-sealing corporations say — out of political correctness — that they are not against Inuit sealing. Inuit organizations, including the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, have rejected this “exemption” as economically meaningless, paternalistic and colonialistic.

A recent World Trade Organization enquiry found that the EU “seal ban” was illegal but would stand to protect the “morals” of EU citizens. Yet many EU countries legally kill seals, as do Americans and Russians, who also ban Canadian seal products. Hypocrisy reigns supreme.

Bans exist because of multi-million-dollar, American headquartered anti-sealing propagandists influence politicians, who pass laws denying citizens their democratic right of choice. A local group is now parroting the same old propaganda.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, never have so many been deceived by so few for such a nefarious reason.

If Renee Gosse of Save our Seals believes the federal government will provide “transitionary aid” to anyone in the sealing industry, she should bring the industry a package from the government that represents the income that everyone in the industry will lose forever more.

Ending sealing is not the goal of the animal rights corporations, it is a tactic. Their goal is the elimination of man’s use of all animals for any reason.

Anti-sealing propaganda is insidious, and unless it is countered by a critical press and politicians asking hard questions, it will continue for as long as it is profitable.  

It’s time for politicians and media to remember the immortal lines of Pogo: “I have met the enemy and he is us.”

History proves that when propaganda triumphs, democracy loses.

As for Gosse’s justified complaints about social media attacks, all I can say is that for decades we have been attacked (verbally, physically and through the written word) by anti-sealing corporations, and now with the advent of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), misguided people who think they are supporting sealing with their nasty comments are returning the compliment.

It is not justified. None of these types of comments by either side are, but the anonymity of social media has opened the floodgates to the detriment of individuals on both sides.

Trolls reign supreme.

 

Jim Winter
St. John’s

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