The Great Jacques-Yves Cousteau once said:
“We have to be logical. We have to aim our activity first to the endangered species. Those who are moved by the plight of the harp seal could also be moved by the plight of the pig – the way they are slaughtered is horrible.”
There is world wide pressure to end the Canadian Seal Hunt due to inhumane acts against harp seals.
Seals are hunted in Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia, but Canada gets the most attention because they have the largest hunt. This subject really tears me apart because as a Canadian, I really love my country, but then I see pictures like this…as a Marine Ecologist and Average Joe, I feel hurt that my Country will allow it.
Check out how the video below where I breakdown the hunt and try to rationalize why it still goes on
But emotions aside let us break down this hunt to see what the big deal is all about.
There are 5.9 million harp seals in Canada mostly concentrated in the St. Lawrence, Newfoundland, and the North. The quota is set at just over 200,000 seals allowed to be killed each year starting on November 15 until May 15 with most occurring in late March.
The seals are killed in 3 step process:
Striking – The seal is shot or clubbed in the head to knock it out;
Checking – The sealer must crush the cranium on both sides of the head to make sure the animal is either knocked out or dead; and,
Bleeding – The sealer must cut the arteries under each of the front flippers to bleed the seal out and then wait at least 1 minute before skinning it.
So that is the nasty part and the controversial one. Both sides of the debate brought in veterenarians and other experts to weigh as to whether the killing process was humane. One side said it is humans the other side says it isn’t.
So that doesn’t help the debate at all.
Another side of the argument for the seal hunt is that the seals are stopping the cod fishery from recovering. You may remember the Northwest cod fishery collapsed due to over fishing in the early 1990s largely attributed to the mismanagement of the government…mainly the politicians and industry.
But I digress…Both sides of the argument agree that the harp seal population is not responsible for the slow recovery of the cod population…we just know that we fished them too much and there aren’t many left…but that is a topic for another show…
So let’s go over what we learnt so far…we may or may not know whether the killing process is humane…perhaps we should ask the seals how they feel about it!
We also know that there is no good ecological reason why we should be killing the seals…
So there must be an economical reason for the seal hunt. Some hunters say that the proceeds of the seal hunt may contribute up to 30% of their annual salary. Okay, is it just me or does that not sound like a lot. Figuring that the total catch and bans on seal pelts over the past few years, the contributions should be around 20%. That sounds even worse. I’m sure there are better ways to make money.
I did a bit of research on what kind of products are sold from the seal hunt. Pelts are a big one, mostly sold to Greenland, Norway, and China. Some people in the fashion industry have been known to use seal pelts in the clothing line, like Versace. Other lines stay away from them. So I suggest you stay away from fashion brans that use seal pelts in their clothing line. but, seal fat oil is used in soaps and health products. So if you want to stop the seal hunt, check the labels on your soaps and health oils to make sure you are buying seal free products.
In my opinion, I don’t really think there is a real need to hunt seals, especially the way it’s done, but then again I don’t think I would like the way cows and pigs are slaughtered either.
What do you think of the Seal Hunt? Do you think there is still a valid reason to keep the hunt going? Let us know