Saturday, March 29, 2008

Canadian Seal Hunt - The Facts

In 1978, famed underwater explorer Jacque Cousteau stated to an audience of 16 000 animal rights advocates, "The harp seal question is entirely emotional. 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 seal could also be moved by the plight of the pig."

At the time, the population of the North Atlantic harp seal herd was 2 000 000. It is now 6 000 000. Throughout the 400 years of harp seal hunts they have never been endangered.

Also, in 1978 there were three species of seal on the endangered species list - the Caribbean Monk Seal, listed in 1967; the Mediterranean Monk Seal, listed in 1970; the Hawaiian Monk Seal, listed in 1970. Today there are six species of seal on the list, including the same three species when Cousteau made his speech.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) assists 2 of these 6 species. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) does not help any. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) does not help any. Perhaps they should have listened to what Cousteau had to say. Then again, if there is one thing that is consistent between protesters both then and now, it is a total lack of logic.

Seals are skinned alive? Think for a minute here. Seriously. Ask any hunter or abattoir worker. Skinning a dead animal is a challenge in itself. Now, if anti-seal protesters make the case that seals are solely harvested for fur, then why would a hunter ruin a pelt by attempting to skin a live animal?? Think about this for a minute. You hold a wiggling animal in one hand and a sharp blade in the other hand. This makes no sense unless the person doing the skinning is intent on carving off a few fingers or a hand. Seal hunters are not barbarians. They are my neighbors. Do these prodominantly urban protesters consider a wildlife officer called out to kill a nuisance bear running around their nice little suburb a barbaric person?

Unfortunately, anti-seal protesters have been easily manipulated by groups who are apparently more concerned with monetary contributions than species longevity. Animal welfare dictates the killing of animals is acceptable as long as it is done in a humane manner and that conservation is ensured. Over the past decade Canadian seal hunt kills have averaged 300 000 animals. The harp seal population has experienced steady growth over this period, which proved the success of conservation.

In the late 1970's with less regulations than are in place today, the Excecutive Director of the International Society for the Protection of Animals, Trevor Scott, said, "While we do not support the killing of any animals, we consider the slaughter of the seals in Newfoundland to be humane." So really, why are all these protest groups fighting a humane conservation-minded hunt of a common animal but not helping other endangered species?

Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was once asked if his and other groups fight against the harp seal hunt because it is easy to use the issue to raise money. His response: "Well, it's definitely easier to make money and it's easier to make a profit because there are over a thousand animals on the endangered species list, and the harp seal isn't one of them."


I guess it can be tough to fight on an issue when you base a great deal of it on human emotions. Facts suck, huh Paul?

Incidentally, Paul Watson was part of Greenpeace until he was kicked out in the late 1970's for advocating a greater degree of extremism. John Hoyt, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States drew a salary of around $200 000 in the mid-1980's to run the organization. My oh my how we can make money by exploiting that iconic baby seal pup.

Suggestion - there are 4 other sealing nations in addition to Canada. One of these is Russia. Canada has the most regulated hunt on the planet. How much regulation do you think is involved in the Russian seal hunt with the collapse of communism in the late 1980's? Let Canadian sealers be!


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Way Way Up said...

Anonymous, again, profanity-laced comments will be deleted from this blog. If you can formulate an arguement without childish name calling then I will glady include them with my posts. At least have the guts to leave a name...let's start with that.

I also find it funny that you accuse me of having no facts and then you hurl invective at me without providing any facts of your own. You are making seal protesters look quite foolish to be honest. Now, I can take your name-calling but really, you're not helping your cause much at all by taking your rage out on me.

You seem to have some anger issues there my friend. I wish you well as you work through your problems.

Way Way Up said...

Hmmmm....anonymous. Seals drown because there is no ice? That's funny because when I look out my livingroom window I see an entire bay covered in ice here. I should also like to point out that seals do not need ice to live. If they did, the entire east coast harp seal population would be in some serious trouble out there come July.

Curtis Groom said...

I've been meaning to give this subject a little more attention than I have in the last few years, but thanks to you I feel the subject has been covered from a scientific viewpoint, therefore thank-you for saving me from the abuse your getting over the obvious. I hope you don't mind me linking this post on my blog. Now, I just have to check that ice mass issue in the Antarctic off my list and I can get back to drivel.
PS Isn't amazing how these people who have never seen a seal, except in a zoo have such informed opinions :)

Way Way Up said...

Thanks Curtis... Link away!

Dave said...

Interpretation is exactly that, an interpretation!
Highly regulated or not I cannot find a reason why humans in this day and age NEED to kill baby seals or a seal of any age for that matter. And as a member and supporter of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the SSCS does not discriminate on whether the species they are trying to protect is endangered or not. Miss-quoting merely to make a point, is a poor way to get your point across. It is however your point, one of which you are entitled to have, but not all including me agrees with it.

Way Way Up said...

So you interpret the facts as you see them, then by your own logic then your interpretation is just as you interpretation.

"The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the SSCS does not discrminate on whether the species they are trying to protect is endahgered or not." Fantastic. I assume then that SSCS also supports an ban on animal products from the German boar and deer hunts? Recently, an MP from Newfoundland and Labrador introduced a prvate members bill to do exactly this. I assume SSCS will be a leading advocate for this then.

"I cannot find a reason why humans in this day and age NEED to kill baby seals or a seal of any age for that matter." Ok, I'll give you a reason then. Here in Nunavut, the harvesting seals is an integral part of Inuit culture and has been for thousands of years. I have lived here for 5 years. I can assure you that the entire seal is used. Nothing is wasted. To simply state that Inuit should abandon their traditional values and magically move toward a total wage-earning society is a highly simplistic suggestion to a very complex socio-economic issue.

We do look forward to your arrival here in Arctic Bay so you can see a traditional hunt first hand. Send me an e-mail of your arrival time out at the airport and I will gladly make sure the taxi is there to pick you up.


In Iqaluit said...

Well written! I liked how you countered much of the "propaganda" spewed out by animal rights groups.

The animal rights groups are good at raising funds and highlighting their issues (as misinterpreted as they may be). If I want to support a counter group, is there one? You really ought to be an advocate for Canada -- how effective are the federal government folks at this anyway?

Hudson Strait said...

I have seal mittens. And I've eaten seal. Mamartuk.

I think that two issues, which are separate, are being conflated here.

The traditional, for meat and tradtional clothing seal hunt is not a bunch of guys clubbing baby seals. A friend of mine showed me a video of himself and a friend hunting a seal. When they pulled what they called "the grandfather of all seals" from thie ice, they were excited at the prospect of having enough meat to eat for at least a week.

I'm not sure what to think of the baby seal clubbing extravaganza that happens in the South. I have not informed myself well enough. It's certainly disturbing to watch.
However, the Inuit seal hunt has little do do with that.


Way Way Up said...

Thanks Iqaluit! While it wasn't my intention to be an advocate, I can say that the debate on this and other blogs has helped me to define my arguements more clearly and led me to look into the arguements of both sides in more detail.

Unfortunately, protest groups such as PETA and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to name only a couple are, as I'm sure you know, loaded to the teeth with cash as the result of their slick propaganda campaigns. I have to hand it to them. They are good at what they do. Screwed up but slick for sure.

The only organization I know of that stands up firmly for the Inuit hunt is Inuit Circumpolar Conference. Unfortunately, it can't compete financially with PETA and SSCS. They are media masters able to draw on the financial support of people around the world.

Two websites I came across this weekend I felt do a good job to refute the antis propaganda are -


I find it very odd that PETA's headquarters are located in Norfolk, Virginia. I'm sure they have terrible problems there with rogue seals menacingly wandering suburban neighbourhoods and that the average Norfolkite is up to date the socio-economic challenges of Nunavut.

jen said...

I am advocating the hunt up north, however as I don't know enough about the hunt out east, I can not comment about that.

There is definately a reason to kill seals up here. Some families don't always have the means to purchase food. Just think of it as feeding a hungry child's belly and then you can see there are two stories to every side.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Way Way Up said...

Anonymous, if you had taken the time to actually READ through the comments so far, you would see that there is a commenter that disagrees with my position. Fair enough. He left a name, refrained from profanity and I responded to him.

You stated that "you are far too scarey and also incorrect". I don't know about the scarey part but if I am incorrect, then kindly point out my inaccuracies.

Interesting tactic, posting eye-witness accounts by crew members of the Farley Mowat. Well, obviously they aren't biased now? You know as well as I do that they are only there to report negative things.

Given Paul Watson's history of involvement with radical, violence-prone groups, of course the Coast Guard is there.

I might add that throwing in a mention of the recently-deceased sealers is in rather poor taste. But quite obviously, your group is not interested in human lives.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is awash in funds from its propaganda campaigns so I'm sure they can reach a much wider audience by publishing your little "press release" with their big war chest rather than posting it on my humble blog.

Matt, Kara and Hunter said...

Well I miss a few days of reading one of my favorite blogs and boy did I have a lot to catch up on!

Love it all Way Way Up. Thanks for the great posts. Please keep it coming!

Rob, Tina and the boys said...

I'm going to link this to my blog. I also have a lot of family in NL right now that will be able to provide the details on the East Coast side of this debate.

Anonymous said...

Yeah a huge thing people don't realise about the seal hunt is the hard cold fact that these things kill cod, which are in enough trouble as is, so why not let people kill seals so the cod doesn't die out completly? The seals live off the cod, so therefore if we don't control the seals which eat the cod there will be no cod, then the seals will all die, lose lose situation, go seal hunt go!

Devon McDonald said...

The value of the seal pelts this year is low. The value of protesting the seal hunt this year is high. There is millions of dollars made protesting this seal hunt. How much more money is made protesting, then what the sealers get?

Devon McDonald said...

Jamie Tarrant reports for the Western Standard that the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) rakes in roughly US$16 million in annual donations from its anti-sealing campaigns."

That's 16 million dollars made from only one animal rights group. I wonder what the total dollars raised world wide is?? Anti-sealing protesting is big, big business today.

Way Way Up said...

It's really quite shocking.....and sad.

Devon McDonald said...

According to this news article, seal hunnters earn 12-15 million per year, seal protest groups earn 60-100 million per year. Notice how the seal protest groups do not want the sealing to end. This is what I always believed, the anti-sealing protest is about making money. The protest groups could not care less about the seals at all.