S.O.S: Save Our Seals

February 13, 2012

Much controversy has erupted over the insistence of many Canadians to host the annual seal hunt off the coast of the Atlantic. This inhumane act has sparked much interest since the NDP’s MP of Newfoundland and Labrador, Ryan Cleary, announced his disapproval of the entire cause. In voicing his concerns, he stated, “The day of the seal hunt may be nearing an end. Part of our history is also whaling… and the day came when the whaling industry stopped. Now is that day coming with the seal hunt? It just may be.” The newly elected MP further reasoned that seal fur only contributes $1 million to the industry, thus disproving its effectiveness. He appears to be standing strong against this treatment of seals despite the possible repercussions it could have on his career.

Many people, especially those living near the Atlantic Ocean, were outraged by Cleary’s comments, as seal hunting is a vital component of their livelihood. According to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), while seal only makes up a portion of Newfoundland’s $600 million fishery, it is responsible for up to one third of some sealers’ annual incomes. Based on the feedback, this cause will have a direct impact on Cleary’s popularity within the province.

Canada, a typically forward thinking nation, is lagging in the world’s efforts to ban the sale of seal products, whereas the United States banned it in 1972. Similarly, the European Union announced its ban in 2009, forbidding the import of Canadian seal products. Further, the US Senate unanimously passed Resolution 84 in the same year, calling for an immediate end to Canada’s annual seal slaughter.

Seal meat is not considered a favourable meal nor is it a delicacy; seals are simply desired for their fur – if even that. If the utter inconvenience and cost efficiency of continuing this massacre won’t put an end to the slaughter, then perhaps the sheer cruelty of the act can. The Washington Post describes it as,

[A] seal appearing to gasp for air, blood running from its nose as it lies on an ice floe. Not far away, a sealer sharpens his knife blade. The seal seems to be thrashing as its fur is sliced from its torso.

Thousands of seals are clubbed and killed for their beautiful, white, rich fur – purely to satisfy our selfish consumer-oriented lives. The fur that we obtain from seals is mainly sold for aesthetic pleasures. One could possibly reason that this hunt should continue, as it feeds hundreds of thousands of people, however, that is not the case. Seal meat is typically thrown away, unused – exhibiting the wastefulness of this industry.

Could MP Ryan Cleary’s stand against the seal hunt result in Canada finally putting an end to this idiotic custom? Will Canada follow our peers, the United States and European Union, in helping to put an end to the ill treatment of our most innocent creatures? We can only hope.