Jim Winter, former president of the Canadian Sealers Association recently sent off a letter in response to a Los Angeles Times article on December 18 2015 regarding news that animal rights activists are lobbying Beijing to ban imports of Canadian seal products. In the article the activists are claiming that any Chinese government action could permanently end the commercial trade in hunted seals. The article in question is here to read online and Jim Winter’s letter starts below:


Your story on the Canadian seal hunt of Dec. 18th, was short on facts and long on misinformation designed to further the goals of the mostly American headquartered (HSI is a wholly owned subsidiary of HSUS, a Hundred million dollar American animal rights group) multi million dollar animal rights groups.

The harp seal herd we hunt has a population of about 7.5 million animals. We know this and a lot about their lifespan, pup production, age of sexual maturity and death due to natural predation because for over a half century Canadian, and other, marine biologists have studied these animals in order to set biologically sound hunt limits called TACs.

We do not “overhunt”. In fact our takes are, and have been for decades, well below the biologically acceptable levels. Unlike many other nations who legally hunt marine mammals, including the USA, UK and many Countries within the EU, we have a sound scientific handle on our seal population whereas they do not: they simply kill without the science.

Canadian sealers are fully trained in humane killing practices before they can obtain a sealing license. Our gunners are marksmen ranking up there with Annie Oakley, Davey Crocket and Daniel Boone. Their activities are closely monitored by officials of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. This is simply the best regulated, best run wild hunt in the world whether one talks of marine mammals or terrestrial mammals.

We kill what we can use and yes we do leave some carcasses on the ice. This is the environmentally proper thing to do because the remains return to the eco-system to feed animals, birds, fish and crustaceans. By doing this we avoid the pollution and landfill problems that plague land based abattoirs. We are so green Kermit is jealous.

When you kill animals “commercially” it is because you are both providing income for your family and providing products to a market: food, fur, leather and Omega3 oils. Since when has “commercial” become a dirty word in a capitalistic society? Since the animal rights groups have fed this ridiculous concept to the media through their press releases and media stunts.

As a marine based society we are very conscious of “global warming” and the effect it has on fish, crustaceans and marine mammals. We monitor the effects of global warming and if or when it threatens seals we will adapt our behaviour to reflect this reality. Animal rights groups use global warming as yet another trigger to influence the uniformed: another fund raising tactic.

Yes we are promoting seal products in many potential markets. However the seal penises are not our focus (the report referenced had nothing to do with our hunt but was a study on Grey/Harbour seals and as far as I know it is simply another study that got shelved) but is the focus of the Chinese themselves. If they wish to purchase them and we have already killed the seal for meat, fur, leather and fat (oil) why not that organ? As any hunter or abattoir operator in the USA or elsewhere will tell you, ecologically sound practice and environmentally proper procedure dictates that one should utilise as much as possible of any animal killed. To the dead animal such distinctions as those made by the animal rights groups have no meaning. Such pious utterances are simply PR designed to raise more money from gullible urbanites.

I was under the impression that the American government is the most powerful in the world but if Professor Li of the University of Houston-Downtown says it is in fact the Chinese government I will take him at his word and suggest that he take up the cause of Chinese human rights rather than the specious cause of animal rights.

This anti sealing propaganda campaign has being going on for many decades and the vast sums (hundreds of millions of dollars) raised by the animal rights groups, whose views represent less than 3% of western society, have been used to co-opt (buy?) politicians in the USA, UK and EU who in turn pass laws based on propaganda and not facts and those laws deny the citizens of their countries their democratic right to choose to use or not use seal based products: anti democratic to say the least.

We do not wish to see people who object to fur, leather or any animal based product buy our products. It is their choice and we accept that. But we do object to venal politicians passing laws denying their citizens that right of choice. And we do object to the knee-jerk, uncritical, unquestioning media coverage that passes for genuine journalism every time the word seal is mentioned. Politicians and media should wake up and remember the immortal words of Pogo: I have met the enemy and he is us.

The seals we kill are killed humanely, killed well within the scientific limits the population can absorb (harp seals are not now nor ever have been on any list of endangered or threatened species), and killed for valid reasons: to provide income for the hunters families and to supply a legal market.  The animal rights groups are promoting the concept of seals as the aryans of the animal world. A species above all others, which is a concept that would make George Orwell smile.

 Jim Winter
Founding President Canadian Sealers Association