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".

Comments: 7

10 years ago

I would like to correct the name of the person I referred to in the 2nd last para in my last post, above.
I unfortunately inserted Geoff's name when in fact I was referring to Chris Gale. I am sorry if the statement as it reads, is misleading. Roo

10 years ago

Chris, very eloquently expressed.
You are right when you state that the people who donate are genuinely concerned about the cruelty issues, the welfare of the seals and the long term survival of the all arctic species. I believe that if Geoff followed the Bloggers links, he would find that the majority who are concerned enough to comment here, are not "seal protection zealots" but ordinary people, just like him, who also care about their fellow man and other pressing global eco sensitive issues.
As an example, I for one abhor the unnecessary brutality of the seal hunt and am a fervent campaigner to have it stopped totally, and forever. However, my socio/enviro/eco concerns do not stop there. I care about human rights: Aids in sub Sahara Africa and Asia, Genocide in Rwanda, Seira Leone etc, violence against women especially in places like India, gender bias and infanticide in China.
Yes, the world is a bloody, cruel and sorry place, and every healthy person who is equipped with the education and/or resources (intellectual, financial or physical) to make a difference has a responsiblity as a transitory inhabitant of this earth to try to make positive change (without bias) when a wrong is being committed again fellow humans, animals or the environment.
We are not the inheritors of this earth. We are merely short-term custodians who should strive to leave the communal nest and all that reside in it, in a better condition than when we entered it.
Furthermore, I quote:
Geoff Smith: "We have lived on the island for over 500 years. The seal hunt was a way of life then as it is now. I hope we will have a seal hunt and getting an income 500 years from know."
And respondent:
Chris Gale: "Also, the tired old excuse of 'its a way of life' is always trotted out by those who try to justify cruelty. Sending children down mines, cock fighting, bear baiting and other activties were once considered 'a way of life'...."Society thankfully moves on".
Geoff, I agree totally, we have evolved and thankfully, continue to do so. It has been documented that cavemen clubbed their women over the head and dragged them back to their caves and raped them. Just because this violent behaviour is part of human history it does no make it right, TODAY!
Violence, brutality, cruelty, is, without exception globally unacceptable. Moreover, the unnecessary waste of any life for economic rather than survival reasons is also totally unacceptable in a modern, civilised world.

10 years ago

There are THOUSANDS of types of work (jobs) that a person can choose in this life. You only live once... So why not live it right?? Build treasures in heaven not Earth, for God's book says that it is easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the eternal kingdom.
Needing to make a living does not justify murdering BABY animals, especially those species that we do NOT even eat, like seals. Animals are not that different from humans... they do feel pain, joy, love.
How would you like it if powerful aliens came to Earth, clubbed and skinned you and your children, and left us all to suffer in pain then die?

10 years ago

Dear Geoff
If your way of life is such a success, why then is the hunt subsidised to such a huge amount by the government?
Have you not stopped to think that actually you might be being short changed by your own politicians?
A much brighter future would come from celebrating your natural heritage and sharing it with people, rather than this backward and repugnant spectacle which so damages Canada's reputation around the world.
I rather think that in this era of increasing realisation that how we treat animals says a lot about how we will treat each other, there is a better way of life for your people than bludgeoning innocent animals to death for the fashion industry.
The money to document and campaign against the barbaric hunt is provided by concerned citizens around the world (including a great many Canadian people) who simply find it morally repugant to do what some of your people do. It should be stopped and will be.
Governments are increasingly realising that they must ban all imports of seal products as that will help bring an end to this ghastly hunt.
The economics of the hunt do not match the highly inflated rhetoric of your post either.
Please supply the facts to back up your statements on the economics.
The seal population from your area up to Greenland, is supposed to number in the many millions.
Global warming means extra pressure.
Also, the tired old excuse of 'its a way of life' is always trotted out by those who try to justify cruelty.
Sending children down mines, cock fighting, bear baiting and other activties were once considered 'a way of life'.
Society thankfully moves on.
You say 'care for the humans and not the animals'.
Please tell me what chance there is of doing that if we as a species can't care for the animals with which we share the planet and cant treat them in a decent and civilised manner?

10 years ago

I just wanted to say it's amazing what you guys are doing. Exposing the truth is key to stopping this brutal mass murder of seal pups each year. I am in a group on the website "Facebook" entitled "Stop the Seal Hunt" and I argue with people each day as to why it should end. People constantly argue back saying "how are these people supposed to make a living then?" etc. I understand people need to live and make money. However, that is NOT what I am protesting. I am simply protesting the abuse, cruelty, and suffering these animals go through at the hands of these cruel hunters. Regardless of what people think, THESE ANIMALS DO SUFFER and I wish we could come up with alternitives to this mass murder of inncocent babies. Sheryl, I would love to get more information to help with my arguements on the website. I need actual facts to back up my debate. Please email me or post some information that I can pass on to these people who agree with the mass murder, I mean, hunt.

10 years ago

I echo what Roo says.
Those who try and defend cruelty will always use lies and deception.
The majority of the public around the globe see the DFO statements for what they are,crude insults to our intelligence.
Thanks for all you are doing in exposing this brutal hunt to the world.

10 years ago

Sheryl, the continued DFO mythologising of the hunt, seal quotas and the killing methodology at an international level is an appalling misrepresentation of the truth you bring to us in the daily reports/updates.
Everyone I have spoken to today has been disgusted by the DFO statement you refer to in "Myth 3", which was quoted verbatum at the end of an article in Australia's largest newspaper early this morning, along with full colour photos of young seals being clubbed.
You can be rest assured in the knowledge that the net response to the DFO's statement in Australia has been one of scorn and anger.
There is also generalised positive regard and concern for you and the team who are forced to observe these atrocities year after year to ensure that accurate scientific data of the hunt is captured in vivo.
Without the continued efforts of the whole team, none of this confrontng and heinous cruelty would be brought to world attention. You guys do a great job.

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