The Humane Society of Canada is once again calling on Premier Danny Williams of Newfoundland & Labrador, to work towards a new "made in Canada" solution to try and hammer out a deal that tries to take all interests into account. "We want to help save people and seals," says Al Hickey, Western Regional Director for animal charity, "and we believe that after decades of receiving support from the rest of Canada it is reasonable to ask the people of Newfoundland & Labrador to reconsider their position on the seal hunt."
Over the next three years, the province of Newfoundland & Labrador, has sanctioned the killing of 975,000 seals in the largest taxpayer subsidized slaughter of marine mammals on earth. The Humane Society of Canada believes it's time for a new approach, because there are more seals being killed today than when the protests began more than 30 years ago," says Hickey.
"On the ice, in the midst of a seal nursery, where they were born pups will be killed in sight of their mothers; adults will also be clubbed, stabbed and shot. Some organizations based in the United States and Europe have threatened fish boycotts, and so begins the endless cycle of protests. When the protests began in the 1970s, tens of thousands of seals were being killed. Now, more than 30 years later hundreds of thousands of seals are being killed. In our view, escalating this any further will not help people or animals," says HSC Executive Director, Michael O'Sullivan.
The animal charity believes that Ottawa would be only too happy to end the seal hunt, if they are asked to do so by the people of Newfoundland & Labrador.
In a series of open letters found here to Premier Danny Williams of Newfoundland & Labrador, The Humane Society of Canada has asked him to consider a new approach: "…For decades, the people of Canada have helped the people of Newfoundland & Labrador, and asked for very little in return. Speaking as one Canadian to another, we believe that the time has come for the people of Newfoundland & Labrador to reconsider their position on what is regrettably, the largest marine mammal slaughter on earth …"
"I don't see how playing the "blame game" is going to help anyone. There have been a lot of bruised egos and harsh words exchanged over the years. While neither side can go back and undo everything that's been said or done since 1970, we can move forward to try and hammer out a deal that tries to take all interests into account. We want to help save people and seals," says O'Sullivan.
"Premier Danny Williams of Newfoundland & Labrador is calling for a greater economic future for his people and asking for more tax dollars from the rest of Canada to make that happen. We share his vision to create a better future for his people, and we're hoping that he's willing to meet the rest of Canadians half way and begin talks about how to end the seal hunt," says O'Sullivan. "Repeated government surveys have found that 9 of out 10 Canadians support the protection and not the killing of wildlife."
Less than 3% of the total population of 517,000 people living in Newfoundland & Labrador hold sealing permits, and even fewer actually participate in the hunt itself. O'Sullivan says that protests drive home the harsh reality of the seal hunt, but not the futility and the reasons behind the largest taxpayer subsidized slaughter of marine mammals on the planet. Those who kill seals for several weeks each year are fishermen for the rest of the year - or at least they used to be.
The collapse of the cod stocks is a story of hook, line and extinction. And unfortunately the story is being repeated all over the world. A report issued last week by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reaffirmed that that there is a global over fishing crisis with 52% of stocks are fully exploited and a further 24% of stocks are depleted due to overexploitation. Ongoing reports issued by the FAO say there are simply too many boats, using destructive methods, catching too many fish. Other reports prepared by the World Bank and the World Trade Organization say there should be an end to harmful fishing subsidies.
"We share Premier Danny Williams' views that people living in Newfoundland & Labrador need more jobs and more hope. In our view, forcing them to "make do" by engaging in the brutal slaughter of seals provides neither," says O'Sullivan. "We want to help the people living on "The Rock", and we hope they are willing to become part of the "made in Canada" solution.
The Humane Society of Canada is asking people to write a polite yet firm letter to Premier Danny Williams of Newfoundland & Labrador asking him to include an end to the seal hunt as a part of his ongoing discussions over greater financial support from the rest of Canada for the people of Newfoundland & Labrador:
Hon. Danny Williams
Premier of Newfoundland & Labrador
Confederation Building, East Block
P.O. Box 8700
St. John's, NL A1B 4J6
Phone: (709) 729-3570
Fax: (709) 729-5875
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
"For the sake of people and animals, we are willing to work with all interested parties and do whatever we can to help the people of Newfoundland & Labrador and to bring an end to the seal hunt," says O'Sullivan.
CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at www.humanesociety.com via twitter at www.twitter.com/HSCanada and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Humane-Society-of-Canada/211468055538280
[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.
A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]
The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. We carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres, and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.
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The sealing industry claims that no whitecoat harp seal pups are killed any longer. The term "whitecoat" refers to the stage of development of a pup, and means the pup is 14 to 21 days of age. Instead, sealers simply wait until the seal is three weeks of age before they club, stab or shoot the seal pup.
Although the overwhelming majority of pups killed each year are harp seals, other species such as hooded and grey seals are also killed.
Of the 200 major commercial fisheries in the world, at least 35 percent are in serious decline and may not recover, and two thirds of them are in permanent decline. Each year commercial fishing fleets throw away 60 billion pounds of unwanted fish: about 25% of the total global catch. The World Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have all agreed that the fishing industry is artificially over-subsidized by tax dollars to the amount of $30 billion, and that there are simply too many vessels using destructive fishing methods catching too many fish.
In the 1999 Report of the Auditor General of Canada, he warned that unemployed fishermen had already begun to deplete lobster, crab and other shellfish stocks. He was also rightly critical of DFO's lack of a sustainable fisheries policy leaving decisions to be made on an inconsistent basis, and the Department's emphasis that it takes no responsibility for any socio-economic impact for its policies.
The Canadian Government's ongoing subsidy of the seal hunt will eventually provoke a legal challenge at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Canada is a signatory to this international trade agreement, which prohibit unfair trade subsidies.
The challenge will come; it is inevitable. And Canada will lose.
Canada's action in lobbying to promote the arctic trade in marine mammals is attempting to erode protection for seals under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act, a separate initiative that will also trigger a challenge against Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement. The United States has banned the import of all Canadian seal products since 1972, and the European Union has imposed a partial ban since the early 1980s.
Michael O'Sullivan, Executive Director of The Humane Society of Canada says "Tax weary Canadians are tired of hearing from politicians and civil servants that depleted fish stocks should be blamed on hungry seals. Slaughtering seals will not have a positive impact on the cod population or the economy of Newfoundland & Labrador, but effectively dealing with fish farms, pollution, overfishing and habitat destruction will."
For more than three decades, Canada's annual seal hunt has cast a long shadow over our international reputation and the hunt continues to lock the people who kill the seals into a seemingly endless cycle of economic despair. The economy of Canada's east coast has always been propped up by equalization funds contributed by other parts of Canada. Any politician or economist advocating a strong, diversified economic base built upon a strategy of shifting commercial exploitation from one species to the next is engaging in an exercise doomed to failure," he says.
"We believe that the only sure path to reorganization is to lay a strong foundation based upon economic diversification. The sustainable, non-consumptive use of wildlife and the environment through carefully planned ecotourism is one element of that foundation. Surveys have shown that Canadians and tourists from other countries support the non-consumptive use of wildlife and they are prepared to pay for it," says O'Sullivan."