The seal hunt is dying

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Dear Editor: Ryan Cleary supports the seal hunt, as does the NDP party.

But by merely stating an obvious fact — that the world demand for seal products does not appear to exist — he has set off a maelstrom of emotional political attacks from all sides.

It is the unquestioning support of this industry by the Conservative, Liberal and NDP parties that should be far more surprising than Cleary’s comments. 

The federal government has injected over $30 million in support to the sealing industry over the past 15 years, and where has it gotten us?

The landed value of last year’s hunt was about $1 million — the lowest it has been since the reinvigoration of the hunt and introduction of direct subsidies in 1995. Canada’s challenge of the EU ban on seal products at the WTO is estimated to cost 10 times this amount — and even if Canada wins, the ban will most likely remain in place.

Russia — said to receive 90 pr cent of our seal fur exports — quietly banned the import of harp seal skins last fall.

Yes, sealing is arguably an important part of Newfoundland culture and tradition. That doesn’t mean there is a need for it in the 21st century, and it shouldn’t make it a sacred cow that cannot be sensibly discussed.

Ryan Cleary did nothing more than give voice to what many Newfoundlanders and Canadians are asking themselves.

If Canada’s commercial seal hunt isn’t economically viable, and there isn’t any evidence killing seals will help fish stocks, why does it continue?

Given the continued documentation of inhumane killing on the ice, and the fact that much of the world is closing its doors to seal products, does this industry really have much of a future?

And if politicians really cared about the fates of sealers and their families, shouldn’t they be doing something more for them than propping up an outdated and dying industry?

Sheryl Fink, director, Seal Program,

International Fund for Animal Welfare

Organizations: NDP, Dear Editor, EU WTO

Geographic location: Canada, Russia, Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Julie
    February 02, 2012 - 19:59

    Great comment John! I wholeheartedly agree!

  • John Hickey
    February 01, 2012 - 09:46

    Newfoundland always had a lucrative seal industry. . It's only in recent years with the interference of Greenpeace, PETA and IFAW that many countries that used to purchase seal products now won't. I won't make any excuses for my total disdain for the aforementioned organizations. They are nothing but over protective meddlers and have no place dictating how a province or country conducts it's affairs. Maybe Newfoundland needs to stand firm and continue with the seal hunt and sale of it's products, even if it's only done during tourist season as a unique and locally-based commodity.. Also, the province should ban all of the previously mentioned groups from it's waters and enforce it to the nth. degree. This may sound extreme to some, but it's the only way these folks will get the message..I'm sure there'll be dissenting comments on this from a few animal lovers, conservationists and the like, but remember people, we're talking about seals here, not giant pandas or Bengal tigers...