Canadian Harp Seal Slaughter

Harp Seal ClubbingCanada’s shameful Harp Seal Slaughter begins today, although our corporate and state-owned media isn’t saying much about it. It’s the largest marine mammal slaughter in the world with 275,000 seal pups to be brutally clubbed to death on the ice flows off Newfoundland and Quebec over the next month. Our Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) claims the seals represent an “impediment to the recovery of the northern cod stocks” which collapsed in 1992 thanks to the incompetence of DFO managers who allowed the stocks to be pillaged by industrial trawlers. Claims that the seals threaten cod stocks are unproven, and political considerations seem far more important. Successive Liberal and Conservative governments have allowed this bloody “hunt” to continue to win votes in Newfoundland and Labrador. Meanwhile, Canada’s image has been blackened around the world,

The “hunt” is heavily subsidized with our tax dollars and millions are squandered “managing” the “hunt”. In April, 2007, nearly 100 sealing boats became trapped in the ice flows off Newfoundland and had to be rescued by Coast Guard icebreakers at great expense. Until they could be saved, the government used helicopters to supply the trapped sealers. This week the Government of Canada sent a delegation of bureaucrats and scientists on their payroll to Europe to try to persuade the European Union not to declare a total ban on Canadian seal products in response to the “hunt”. Frankly, I hope they fail. Animal rights groups like the Humane Society of the United States have launched a boycott of Canadian seafood to protest the “hunt”, costing Canada far more in exports than the seal products earn.

Over the past five years, 95 percent of the seal pups clubbed, shot, and skinned alive for their furs have been under three months of age. Most hadn’t eaten their first solid food or taken their first swim in the sea. The defenseless pups had no escape from the thuggish sealers who left their bloody carcasses on the ice to rot. This slaughter is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of baby seals who drown each year due to shrinking ice flows in the Gulf of St Lawrence caused by climate change. In summer, tens of thousands of seals are shot in the open sea by hunters from Greenland. Older male seals are killed for their penis which is marketed in Asia as an aphrodisiac. The animals have no respite.

Mainstream Canadian commentators often point their fingers at sins committed in other countries while condoning this barbarism at home. Their hypocrisy matches the drivel flowing from the mouths of self-serving politicians like Loyola Hearn, Conservative MP from St John's South–Mount Pearl (Newfoundland and Labrador), Canada’s Minister of Fisheries. When the next federal election arrives, I suggest you ask your local candidates where they stand on this issue and vote accordingly. Central and western Canada have a lot more votes than Newfoundland and Labrador and these cynical opportunists should be made to pay the price.

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