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EDITORIAL: Exactly what is endangered?


Every aspect of the seal hunt carries with it a sea of controversy swelling over a wave of misinformation. The only winners, it seems, are the crows that caw the loudest.

The story The Western Star ran Saturday detailed how a Corner Brook woman’s purse made of seal skin was confiscated at the US/Canada border.

Nora Fitzgerald was cross the border into Maine from New Brunswick when the Border Services agent inquired about the accessory. She was then questioned at the customs office and the purse was taken. But this never happened before she was told seal was endangered species. Yes, endangered, it appears.

All countries have the right to enact laws, just as they have the right to a enstate a democracy, govern and decided who they want to do the governing. When the information used to create those laws is based on fiction, however, it’s a little difficult to take those laws seriously.

The population of the harp seal has never been endangered, so why was this even mentioned by the customs officers when Fitzgerald was questioned?

Frank Pinhorn of the Canadian Sealers’ Association has his own strong views on it, of course. He’s been fighting for the inclusion of seal products in the US since the 1970s.

“The harp seals were never endangered, or the hoods or the greys,” he said. “That is the way they connived and schemed to ban all seal products.”

That’s not to say people would listen to Pinhorn, of course. He’s from the side fighting against the ban and would say that anyway. Right? Might as well get Newfoundlanders to seek out dietary advice from PETA representatives.

Well, it doesn’t take long for a more balanced look.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has listed harp seals as a species of “least concern.” Then there’s a little-known conservation organization called the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), whose Monte Hummel is quoted as saying, “There is no reason for WWF Canada to reconsider its current priorities and actively oppose the annual harvest of harp seals,” in relation to the strong population.

The seal hunt will has its supporters and detractors, just as it has since its inception. There’s little that can change views and that’s perfectly OK. However, there is an expectation that the laws governing nations should be based in fact, free from romantic story lines that use words such as “endangered” or “inhumane.”

What will we hear next? Someone saying baby whitecoats are bludgeoned on the ice?

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