NEWFOUNDLAND SEAL HUNT VERSUS THE GLOBAL VILLAGE
If you ask any Newfoundlander or Labradorean how he feels about the seal hunt, he will probably say, “There’s no problem with the hunt; the problem is those crazy protesters.”
However, there are many conflicting world-wide opinions on this issue. Even though the European Economic Community is against the seal hunt (they will soon vote on banning the importation of seal pelts), and most of the civilized world doesn’t approve of the hunt, Canada’s official stand is pro-hunt.This is because, politically, Canada must support her tenth province. On the other hand, mainland Canadians, when asked their opinion, are usually against the hunt. At home, in a recent television pole, Newfoundlanders were asked whether the seal hunt would still be on the go in ten years time. The vote was l5% no, and 85% yes.
The hunt has a long history in our province. Early settlers taught their sons to live off the land, hunting animals to survive. And so Newfoundlanders presently hunt moose, rabbits, and seals, seeing no difference in either pursuit.
But today there are some serious drawbacks to the local seal hunt which residents of our province either are not aware of, or are ignoring:-
l) The sheer number of seals killed, over 1/4 of a million Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in 2008, far outnumbers hunting quotas for other animals, and according to Canadian government scientists, overestimated TAC could lead to the depletion of the harp seal population by as much as 50% to 70% over the next 15 years.
2) The effect of global warming on seal populations is very negative. Young seals need solid ice on which to live and thrive. Global warming contributes to thin and slushy ice, as well as loose-packed ice, all of which create difficulty for seals. Canadian government scientists estimate that in the year 2002, 75% of all seal pups in the Gulf of St. Lawrence drowned before the hunt began.
3) It is a fact that the seal hunt is no longer economically viable. In 2008, about half the Newfoundland vessels that leave from the outports to pursue the hunt at the Front, have stayed ashore. Their skippers are claiming that high fuel costs, coupled with the far off-shore location of the seal herd, result in it being difficult to make any money on the hunt. Iles de la Madeleine fishermen only made $3,000 or $4,000 each, this year in the Gulf.
4) The fact that the hunt inflicts needless pain and suffering on the seals. This April, because of the unfortunate drowning of four Iles de la Madeleine sealers, the cameras were rolling to record the hunt. Film footage of the following incident was broadcast around the world—– “A sealer was shown dragging a large seal across the ice by means of a gaff embedded in the seal’s skull. It was obvious that the animal was still alive because of his flipping tail.”
These images can only degrade Newfoundlanders and Canadians. It is time for the people of this province to stop believing that the wholesale slaughter of seals is our birthright, and take a long, hard look at the hunt, as it stands today, in the Global Village.