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LETTER: Why we need a seal cull

Harp seal
Harp seal. — SaltWire Network file photo

Save a cod. Club a seal.

Since the ban on the hunting of white coat seals was imposed in 1972 by the federal government, the annual seal harvest has continued to decline. And when the European Union slapped a ban on Canadian seal products, silver seal pelts that once fetched over $100 a piece in France and Italy plummeted to under $20 each. European politicians that listened to the likes of Greenpeace and Pamela Anderson permanently hamstrung one of our ancestral industries beyond repair.

In 2014, Paul Davis’ Progressive Conservative government even signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, a free trade agreement with Europe, without even asking for the European Union to lift the seal product ban. Because of the continued decline in seal harvest, populations exploded. There are over seven million harp seals that are devastating our marine life with each passing migration from the north, destroying valuable fish stocks and causing incalculable economic damage to the fishery and our province.

The federal government has allowed this to go on for decades, and each successive government refuses to take any action on the exploding seal populations. We are now seeing the results of their inaction. Shrimp, crab, and cod stocks are disappearing at an alarming rate, while seals are never considered enough of a contributing factor. The government continues to set tokenized quotas that go unfilled.

We need a seal cull.

The province must call on the federal government to cull the difference in the amount of seals harvested in the previous year and the quota set by the fisheries scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. This harvest differential cull must be conducted each spring.

If the federal government refuses to enact this seal population management plan, the only answer is demanding that the provincial government sanction a harp seal cull, no matter the legislative or constitutional measures necessary, including the notwithstanding clause.

Sanction a million animal seal cull annually through the use of section 33 of the Charter and offer $1 per pelt until the federal government implements a seal population management plan — with such a bold action there is no way for the federal government to ignore this catastrophe on the horizon any longer.

We know our fishery and our waters. It’s time to protect them.

Zack Best, president
NL Proud

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