Sheryl Responds to DFO Mis-information
IFAW Senior Researcher Sheryl Fink has been an observer of the hunt for the past 6 years
We're grounded today - April 6th - by low cloud, freezing rain, you name it. So I'm finally getting a chance to get caught up on work, email, and reading some of the news that has been printed over the past week.
A number of stories, including one in the Washington Post really burn my britches, because the media is continuing to promote a whole new whack of DFO myths about the seal hunt this year.
Myth 1. DFO has reduced the quota becuase of poor ice conditions this year.
Okay, this may be partly true. But the other part that isn't getting mentioned in the news this week is that DFO also had to reduce the quota because they know that recent quotas are unsustainable In order to stay within their 5 year management plan (which, if you ask, does not even exist. Call DFO and ask for a copy, if you are lucky you might get a press release and backgrounder but not a management plan) these quotas are going to need to drop even more next year, and they are going to need to drop a lot, and DFO (or at least someone there) knows it.
At first I wondered why Hearn included the 19,000 "carry forward" into the 270,000, rather than pulling last year's stunt of adding these "extra" allocations on top and making the quota sound even bigger, thus making more sealers and fishermen happier, which seems to be what drives this Minister's decisions (not that this is unusual).
But then I realized that maybe someone in DFO is brighter than we give them credit for. Because if the quota stays at even 270,000 for the next couple of years, in order to keep within the (non-existent) plan it is going to have to be cut to something like 150,000, probably lower, and that is going to be a cut no Minister wants to make. But it has to be done, and by including the 19,000 the Minister (whoever that may be) can cover their butt somewhat and use it to justify the even bigger cut that will be necessary next year.
I won't even get into the absurdity of having a "carry forward" quota of 19,000, when in fact the total allowable catch last year was exceeded by almost 20,000 animals. That kind of silliness should be obvious to everyone, but I don't think it has been mentioned at all in the media coverage.
Myth 2. Ice conditions have been poor in the past 4 out of 5 years.
I'd like to know where DFO is getting this one from. Our analysis of Environment Canada data says 9 out of 11, actually 10 of the last 12 if you count this year. Environment Canada's own analysis says ice conditions in eastern Canada have been below average for the past 12 years. So I'm not sure why DFO is only mentioning the last 5, just trying to downplay the reality I guess?
Myth 3. The DFO "brought this seal herd back from 1.8 million in the 1970s to 5.5 million in 2004," and this recovery is a "conservation success story."
This one really flips my lid. What DFO seems to have conveniently forgotten in using this line, is that in the 1970s the harp seal population had been reduced by as much as 66% due to overhunting. Even Canadian government scientists were concerned. The only reason the harp seal population was able to recover is because kill levels were dramatically reduced from 1982 through 1995, a direct result of a reduced demand for sealskins and the European import ban on the skins of whitecoat seal products. And... lets stop and think... who was responsible for that ban? It sure wasn't the Canadian government who, in response, undertook a travelling circus of diplomats and "experts" around Europe to try and defend a slaughter that millions of people found morally repugnant. Just like the Canadian government contingent that has been travelling in Europe for the past 2 weeks trying to defend the current indefensible commercial seal hunt.
I don't know if the DFO actually thinks the public is so stupid as to not understand this, but taking credit for the recovery of the seal herd - a recovery that occurred only when commercial hunting was practically finished - and using this to justify this cruel and unsustainable hunt really tosses my cookies. (And it also makes me "really, really, angry" for those of you making fun of my eloquent video post the other day !)
I could go on; when it comes to myths being perpetuated about Canada's commercial seal hunt, there is just so much great material to work with. But it is clear that DFO's continuing campaign of dis-information is in full swing, proving once again the old axiom that "politics is the father of lies".