Opinion: SAVE OUR SEAL(ER)S by Jim Winter

Note: This letter appeared in the Telegram May 6, 2017 and was sent to us here at the CSA this week. We thank Jim Winter for his continued support and solid arguments he makes on behalf of our industry.


The current population of Harp seals off the east coast of Canada (the ones we hunt) is about 7 million 5 hundred thousand animals

For over 50 years Canadian marine mammal scientists have studied the Harp seal herd so we have a very, very good understanding of them. From this science the government of Canada sets annual quotas that sealers can kill and yet sustain the health of the heard. During this period we have more than tripled the size of the herd.

The seals we hunt are fully weened and independent of their dames. Harp seal dames feed their offspring for between 11 and 15 days and then leave them to find a male and start the pregnancy cycle all over again. Harp seals are not helicopter parents. Thus the use of anthropomorphic words like baby are merely heart tugging propaganda to increase donations.

Harp seals are not now nor have ever been listed by any reputable conservation agency as being either endangered or threatened. Nor have any of the other seal species hunted by Canadians

All Canadian sealers are trained and are licensed by the Government of Canada. About 99% of the seals are killed by a rifle shot to the head causing instant death. We don’t often miss. Think in terms of Annie Oakley. The remaining seals we take are killed instantly by a blow to the head with a regulation club or hakapik.

The only study portraying the killing as inhumane was paid for by IFAW and conducted by a group of British vets (the kind who look after your cat, dog, cow, sheep or horse) and never peer group reviewed, as is customary with studies of this kind. Every other study, including that of the International Veterinary Group, have found the hunt to operate with the same humane practices as any slaughterhouse in the western world.

We use everything we can of the animal. The meat for food. The pelt for fur and leather. The fat for oils and Omega3. What we cannot use we leave on the ice or in the water as food for marine mammals, birds, fish, and crustaceans. The products we produce are natural and sustainable. We work in an eco friendly manner that is environmentally sound.

We are so green that Kermit would blush.

We are aware of the potential of global warming to change our environment.  As responsible hunters we will adapt as required and the seals, who have endured for millennium, will as well.

There is only one seal hunt in Canada and that is a commercial hunt based upon earning a living. The people of Nunavut, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador all hunt seals the same way for the same reason. Some of the animal goes to personal use and some is sold to provide income for our families.

Anti sealing corporations constantly make pious, politically correct statements that they are not against Inuit sealing. Inuit organisations – including the Inuit Circumpolar Conference – have rejected this “exemption” as being economically meaningless, paternalistic, and colonialistic.

The recent World Trade Organisation enquiry found that the EU “seal ban” was illegal but to protect the “morals” of EU citizens the ban would stand. An interesting decision given that many countries within the EU legally kill seals as do Americans and Russians. They both also ban Canadian seal products. Hypocrisy reigns supreme.

Bans exist because the multi million dollar American headquartered anti sealing propagandists own politicians in many countries. The bought politicians pass laws denying their citizens their democratic right of choice. One anti sealing corporation has assets of over one hundred million dollars. Little wonder they have pet politicians doing their bidding. A local based group, who may or may not be in contact/collusion with those corporations, is now parroting the same old propaganda.

International markets for seal products exist as they always have. Canadian sealers are denied access though the actions of hypocritical international politicians in the pockets of the anti sealing corporations. The democratic right of citizens of those countries to use or not use seal products has been stolen.

Anti sealing propagandists have manipulated media for half a century with their unsubstantiated comments and pseudo facts, aided and abetted by their celebrity friends. The entire circus is a travesty of fiction over fact.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill: never have so many been deceived by so few for such a nefarious reason.

Many hundreds of rural Canadians are directly and indirectly (truckers – plant workers – fuel sales companies – insurance companies – grocery stores – clothing manufacturers – firearm and ammunition vendors –  automobiles dealers – retailers – wholesalers –  exporters – restauranteurs – artisans – artists) employed in the sealing industry earning a living for their families. Unlike urbanites few rural people have the luxury of an annual salary. So each little bit of income counts.  The sealing industry is much more than simply the sealers and as any economist will tell you the value of an industry is in its totality: basic activity plus spin-off jobs.

If Ms. Gosse really believes that the Government of Canada is going to provide any “transitionary aid”  to anyone in the sealing industry I would suggest she talk to them and bring the sealing industry a package from the government that truly represents the income, to all involved in the industry, that will be lost not for one year but for ever more. I say government package because as we all know everybody in our province, not just fishers, have tried all kinds of ways of finding new sources of income with, sadly, not a lot of success.

Ending sealing is not the goal of the animal rights corporations it is merely a tactic. Their goal is the elimination of man’s use, any use, of all animals for any reason. If they are successful in their anti sealing campaign who will be the next victim. You?  Granted that may not be Ms. Gosse’s stated objective but given how she speaks the same language as the others we have no way on knowing

Anti sealing propaganda is an insidious thing and unless countered by a critical press and politicians prepared to ask hard questions it will continue as long as it is profitable. Anti sealing is the second greatest propaganda campaign of the last 85 years.

It is time for politicians and media to remember the immortal lines of Pogo: I have met the enemy and he is us.

Over the decades we have “dialogued” with everyone from Brian Davies to Paul Watson (as well as many others with more acronyms than a tin of alphabet soup has letters) and numerous international politicians and found their concept of “dialogue” is …. My way or the highway.

It is time for politicians to climb out of the pockets of these multi million dollar anti sealing animal rights corporations and grant their citizens their democratic right to choose for themselves to use or not use seal products. It is time for the media to stop being manipulated by “stunts and fake news”.

Canadian sealers want all citizens of all countries to have their democratic right to choose for themselves and not have that right denied by bought politicians.

Change bad laws and give the democratic choice to buy or not buy seal products to the people not the politicians.

History proves that when propaganda triumphs democracy loses.

As for Ms. Gosse’s complaints (justified) about social media attacks all I can say is that for decades we have been attacked (verbally, physically and through the written word) by anti sealing corporations and now with the advent of “social media”  (facebook – twitter – etc) misguided people who think they are supporting sealing with their nasty comments are returning the compliment. It is not justified. None of these types of comments by either side are but the anonymity of social media has opened the flood gates. To the detriment of individuals on both sides. Sadly trolls reign.

Sincerely

Jim Winter

May 12th, 2017|