“You Europeans should mind your own business”

I came across this statement recently as I was trawling through the fiery debates on the Sky News discussion board. After a little more browsing, I saw that this is a sentiment shared by many Canadians. After all, goes the argument, Europeans cull lots of animals including deer, bears, and foxes. They should deal with their own problems first and let poor, rural Canadians continue to eke out a meagre income by killing seals.

Well, as a Canadian who lives in Europe, I find this proposition a bit mystifying.

After all, don’t Europeans, Canadians and Americans all share a common cultural heritage that says that causing injury to another creature in such a way that is cruel is morally objectionable? In fact, I think you’d be hard-pressed, whether in Europe or North America, to find anybody who could watch a three-month-old infant seal shot or clubbed and left to slowly die in a pool of its own blood and not be sickened. It’s no surprise, then, that more than seven out of ten people in Europe and also in Canada are opposed to the hunt. In fact, I know many Newfoundlanders who loudly protest the hunt.

The differences between the Canadian seal hunt, a commercial hunt motivated purely by profit and the largest slaughter of marine mammals in the world, and other types of culls are obvious. The Canadian hunt takes place over a huge area, in a harsh and unstable environment, and over a short period of time. Sealers have two choices: to stay ship-bound and try to shoot the tiny seals from moving vessels while the seals bob in the ocean on ice floes, or else to slip and slide their way across the ever-shifting ice to club the seals to death. Both of these options mean that the likelihood that the seals are actually dead before they are skinned is extremely small.

I agree that fishermen in Newfoundland face an unhappy situation. Over decades, they’ve seen their cod stocks decline to almost zero. Of course, most people agree that this is almost certainly because year on year, they and other fishermen ignored warnings from the scientific community and over-fished their stocks. Now, they increasingly turn to killing seals to supplement their incomes.

Follow this trajectory into the future and what do we see? Species after species killed to extinction in order to satisfy the short-term economic needs of fishermen. What’s next after the seals? Polar bears?

It’s time for the Canadian Government to stop it’s short-sighted policy of “buying off” the provinces with subsidies that support unsustainable industries and take a meaningful, rational approach to investment that will benefit the environment and Canada’s rural communities for decades to come.

-A Canadian in Europe

Comments: 34

 
Anonymous
6 years ago

Hi Rick,
Normally I wouldn't bother replying to a post as ill-informed as yours, but as I have a few spare moments, here goes...
"ifaw is one of the most misleading profit driven "animal rights "groups out there"
- Actually, IFAW is one of the most transparent, efficient non-profit organisations. We've been given a 4 star (of 4) rating by Charity Navigator, an independent charity ratings agency. 76.9% of IFAW's total budget is spent on the programmes and services that it exists to deliver. You can read more about it by clicking the "Charity Navigator" link on the bottom-left of www.ifaw.org.
"if this industry is driven by profit wouldnt you want to maximize that said profit by getting the best product possible? So do u think its even possible to skin a live animal and get a pelt that anyone would buy. So its ludicris to believe that someone would risk thier lives to go out on the ice and not try and get the best pelt possible"
The European Food Safety Authority (an independent authority) recently published a report on the animal welfare aspects of different methods of killing and skinning of seals.
They concluded (based on data from the sealing industry, governments, animal welfare groups, and others) that in its examination of Canada’s commercial seal hunt, the EFSA scientists found that:
- there is strong evidence that, in practice, effective killing does not always occur;
- there is evidence that, during Canada’s commercial seal hunt, animals suffer pain and distress (ie, are inhumanely killed);
- sealers often do not comply with the Canadian regulations in relation to manually checking the skull or administering a blinking reflex test;
- in contrast to current practice, attempts to kill seals should not be made where the seal does not pose a stable target or the sealer may be unbalanced, such as on shifting ice floes;
- seal hunts should be opened up to independent inspections without undue interference.
Read it here: http://www.efsa.eu.int/EFSA/efsa_locale-1178620753812_1178671320476.htm
Also, here’s a report (done for IFAW) by 5 independent veterinarians, who concluded that
“Cranial evaluation of 76 seal carcasses produced data that clearly demonstrates the
occurrence of such suffering. In 17% of the cases observed there were no detectable lesions
of the skull, leading us to conclude that any alteration in consciousness is very unlikely to have occurred as a result of clubbing.” As you say, you’re a biologist, so you do the math.
As for your ludicrous suggestion that the "skinning of a live seal video, that has been proven to be a video fabricated by the ifaw to spread their lies" I invite you to present any evidence whatsoever that this is the case.
IFAW is not the only organisation to document the cruelty of the hunt. You’ll find videos throughout the internet that appear to show seals being skinned alive. However, I agree, while they do appear to show that these animals are alive while they are being skinned they do not constitute evidence. That’s why the veterinary assessment that I mentioned above is a more useful source of information. It clearly shows that this is the case.
Also incredibly cruel are the high “struck and loss” rates, where a seal is hit and injured and it escapes only to die (possibly) a slow, cruel death. You can see footage of this on Sky News.

 
Anonymous
6 years ago

I understand that there is cruelty everywhere in the world, to children, women and animals. But this is the fight for today, and I am compelled to do what I can to try to stop the barbaric hunting of these infant seals. To that end, I have begun my own campaign of blogging to contact my fellow authors, writers, readers and tourists to Canada to ask them to join me, join us, to end this slaughter. You can certainly catch more honey, make more money by marketing ecologically savvy tours to the harp seal nurseries than one ever can with the pittance the fisherman/hunters get for the pelts.
Bess McBride

 
Anonymous
6 years ago

Sasha , this is about ending the seal hunt , you can bet if there was a anti seal boat over turned witha loss of crew, the sealers would cheer.The seal hunters will tell any stories, lies , propaganda they can , just listen to them ..quote .. I respect the seals ... ya right as they club a helpless animal and leave it for dead just to make a few dollars on a market that is ending . everybody has sadnes here , but lets look at what this is about , A Canadian government that killed the cod fish stocks from over fishing and now refuse to see the cruelity ina seal hunt and group of coastal fisherman that refuse to give up a tradition

 
Anonymous
6 years ago

I too am saddened by the seal hunt and can't help but want it to end.
But I do NOT hate sealers. I cannot. I have met some who are indeed "loving family men". They don't do this for sport. The three killed recently are just the latest of hundreds, maybe thousands, who have died over the centuries of sealing. Better jobs would be welcome, but are scant in a remote province with a collapsed economy--any suggestions?
Activists like us do have a right to be involved in this. But before interfering with people's lives, please try to at least listen to them and understand their situation. Then decide what action to take.
If anyone would care to hear the sealers' own words, look here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH-2LJ8VLhs
I don't plan to ever buy seal fur or other products. But appalling as the hunt is, I am equally sickened by the outpouring of hatred on this blog.

 
Anonymous
6 years ago

Google search all the websites and online petitions you can find and sign them, send an email to the major supermarkets in your area and ask them to boycott Canadian seafood products, get a list of all the ministers,tourism outlets and mayors in the areas of Eastern Canada where this is happening and email them stating you will boycott the country and its products until this stops - all of these things are practical ways to do something - money talks louder than anything else, the money they will lose in tourism will force them into action. I found this text on a website to use in your letters and emails - "While the DFO continues to state that sealing revenues bring 50 million + to Eastern Canada; the economic losses resulting from a long-term boycott of Canada's East Coast may well be in the BILLIONS in the not-too-distant future. Most educated individuals understand that the sealing industry survives by subsidies--carried on the taxpaying backs of the many, for the benefit of the very few.
I will not be visiting Eastern Canada until sealing has ended and is permanently OUTLAWED. In fact, I refuse to buy ANY goods/services from your region, including those from the internet.
I'll be spreading the word far and wide, to friends, family, business associates, religious and civic groups and anyone else who will listen; imploring them to boycott Eastern Canada until the knuckle-dragging brutality of this obscene orgy of death is history".
Sincerely

 
Anonymous
6 years ago

Good point Marceles ,these seals do not belong to Canada , We have to stop the market ... The east coast people can find other jobs or let the government take care of them .... Thats why this is going on in the first place .. Most east coast people are on unemployement paid by the government and the people of Canada .. Clubbing seals is a way for income

 
Anonymous
6 years ago

I think the type of brutality that is shown going on right now during the seal hunt is going to create very violent opposition. The sealers have always known how dangerous this is and the families of those who have died will certainly suffer. Doesn't this beg the question "Why continue this dangerous, profit driven, massacre of defenseless pups for fur?" The world community is against it, the harp seals do not belong to Canada, their sealers are dying, the harp seals cannot support this massive slaughter. What possible reason is there for continueing this insanity?

 
Anonymous
6 years ago

As a Canadian I too am sickened by the seal hunt & have been protesting against it for years. I remember reading in one source that the Canadian government spends approx 6 million dollars annually employing icebreakers to make way for the fishing vessels to gain access to the ice fields. Why not just give this money to the "poor starving fishermen & their starving wives & starving children". (BTW -NO ONE starves in Canada). The seal hunt provides only a few thousand dollars to each hunter annually. If the Maritime community would get it's act together it could make up any financial shortfall in any number of other ways. In any case, the economics of the situation are NO justification whatever for the mass cruelty. The same monetary justification has been made many times in history for the continuation of morally indefensible actions. I am saddened & embarrassed that my Canadian brethren in the east have not been able to rise above their myopic greed & behave in a way that represents the conscience & kindness inherent in most of the rest of Canadians.

 
Anonymous
6 years ago

Just to add to my earlier comment.....
those of you who support the seal hunt - don't try and kid yourselves and others that the men that go out there are loving family men with a wife and 2.4 children at home - this is not the norm, most of these men look forward to this all year - a chance to commit mass animal cruelty with the backing of the government. and lets not forget the hundreds of psychological studies that have found links between violence to animals and violence to humans.
I feel sorry for the good people of Canada - the 70% plus who want this banned. Your country is being vilified around the world right now - so don't forget you are the ones with the voting power, unfortunately everything always comes down to politics in the end.

 
Anonymous
6 years ago

Jake , this is not about revenge , this is about stopping cruelty,Is it fare to say the fisherman got what they deserved. " No of coarse not ", but they all no the risks of the sea , and my feeling is they shouldn't be there in the first place , so if you want to support a cruel act like this seal hunt remember it comes with a price .

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