April 27, 2003, VANCOUVER - The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) will vigorously oppose any proposal for a West Coast seal hunt. The most recent is reportedly from the Skidegate band on the Queen Charlotte Islands. One of the reasons given for the aboriginal commercial seal hunt is to protect salmon stocks and other fish.
"Since scientific studies show that salmon make up a very small part of a seal’s diet, it is apparent that there are other motives for the proposed hunt," says Al Hickey, HSC Western Regional Director. "As with the situation on the East Coast, seals are being wrongly blamed for significant fish losses."
"On the East Coast cod stocks have been decimated by human greed, arrogance and stupidity," states Michael O’Sullivan, HSC Executive Director. "On the West Coast there are several reasons for the reduced salmon population. These include over fishing, pollution, habitat destruction and fish farms," continues O’Sullivan. Recently a coalition of four First Nations Tribes launched a lawsuit against the BC Government and two fish farms arguing that fish farms have significantly impacted the environment and fish stocks; decreasing the number of wild pink salmon by 98% through the spread of sea lice to wild populations from farmed salmon in open net cages.
O’Sullivan is also quick to point out that a drought last year had a significant impact on the salmon population: "A drought last year prevented some salmon from spawning on Vancouver Island due to lower river levels and dried up creeks. This alone would reduce a salmon population significantly. This extreme weather, these were the driest conditions on record, are said to be caused by global warming - a condition caused by people, not seals."
He says that tax weary Canadians are tired of hearing from fishermen, politicians and civil servants that depleted fish stocks should be blamed on seals.
The World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization have all agreed that the fishing industry in Canada and around the world is artificially over subsidized by tax dollars and that there are simply too many vessels using destructive fishing methods catching too many fish. There are about 200 major commercial fisheries around the world, and two thirds of them are in permanent decline. A recent study out of Dalhousie University concluded that it takes commercial fishing operations 15 years to wipe out 80% of a fishing area's abundance.
"The Atlantic cod fishery was one of the most productive in the world, and should have lasted for decades. The collapse of this vital industry put over 60,000 people out of work. Seals are not to blame. This was human greed and stupidity plain and simple," says O’Sullivan.
Several years ago, a report by the federal Auditor General warned that Canada's shellfish industry was headed towards a collapse. Unbelievable as it may seems, the department's civil servants claim that they are lawyers and scientists and take no responsibility whatsoever for the social and economic impacts of their recommendations and decisions. Recently, snow crab quotas were cut because of over exploitation of these stocks.
"Those fishermen, politicians and civil servants who accuse seals for the demise of the cod stocks and the reductions in salmon are knowingly falsely accusing them, says O’Sullivan. "These people are really proponents of a commercial seal slaughter and will blame seals to maintain the massacre on the East Coast, to try to initiate a similar slaughter on the West Coast and to shift the blame from where it should be really aimed - humans."
The Humane Society of Canada is demanding that Ottawa deny the request for a West Coast seal hunt and deal with the real factors affecting the salmon population. As O’Sullivan says, "Slaughtering seals will not have a positive impact on the salmon population, but effectively dealing with fish farms, pollution, over fishing and habitat destruction will."
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.]
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