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No Wonder The Canadian Flag Is Red

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I received a promotional packet sponsored by Air Canada the other day entitled “Discover the Essence of Canada.” My immediate thought was “no thanks, not yet.” I threw it in the sack in which I collect most of my dry trash for recycling.

sealFor Daily Mail reporter Danny Penman, he discovered the true essence of Canada in a way he’d probably love to forget. (The Daily Mail is a right-of-center British paper which regularly reports on serious worldwide cases of animal abuse.)

Most people who pay reasonable attention to world events know about the seal culls in Canada. However, aside from animal-rights groups, there is not enough outrage. We know about it, but we think it’s sanitized and controlled, simply an attempt for “heroic” Newfie fishermen to retain their livelihood. Some even think it is about protecting the Inuits’ way of life and their traditions. This is anything but true. It is what the Canadian government wants us to think.

Penman reports that the Canadian government, which approves and subsidizes the seal hunts, have earmarked 325,000 baby seals to be slaughtered and fishermen in Newfoundland will reap the rewards from the pups’ fur pelts. Penman describes in gory detail the massively blood-stained ice floes to be found along the province’s Atlantic coast. He witnessed the zeal at which seals are killed and how not one will be left alive before this year’s cull ends. But while he was uncovering the scenes of this carnage, he went through hell at the hands of not only Newfoundland’s hillbilly fishermen, but also the police and other Canadian authorities who were completely apathetic to his plight.

Penman reports:

I was subjected to days of violent intimidation before eventually managing to become the first journalist to witness Canada’s “secret” seal slaughter … First of all, the car I was travelling in was rammed and forced off the road by angry fishermen. Six 4×4 trucks then chased me and a small group of anti-cull activists across open fields and repeatedly smashed into us at 30-40 mph, clearly intending to do us serious damage. Other fishermen pelted us with bricks and rocks. Miraculously, none of us was hurt, but several vehicles, including mine, were written off.

“I knew they would beat up the men, but I was worried they would rape me,” says Vera Weber, co-ordinator of the Switzerland-based Franz Weber animal welfare charity, who was travelling in my car. “They were shouting at us: ‘We’ll kiss the girl, we’ll kiss the girl.’ I don’t think the ‘kisses’ would be affectionate ones.”

When we eventually escaped the fishermen and made it back to our hotel, there was a mob lying in wait for us, hurling abuse. They were volatile-looking, heavy-set rednecks — I knew that one punch would knock me down. We managed to get into the hotel … we spent the next ten hours imprisoned.

The Canadian police, Mounties and authorities all refused to help us. At one point, a local policeman arrived but was soon joking with our captors and did nothing to help us. The police stepped in only after British, Swedish, U.S. and German diplomats demanded that they take action to free us.

As if this wasn’t reprehensible enough, for Penman it was only to get worse:

Airports also began refusing to sell us fuel for our helicopters — they pretended they’d run out — and we heard that our flight plans had been passed on to the fishermen. As a result, we were met with hostility in whichever town we tried to escape from them.

When Penman did finally get to witness the seal cull, he found it was rife with incompetence:

The vast majority of seals killed are shot, rather than clubbed to death. At first glance this seems like a small but welcome step forward. Surely shooting an animal has to be better than battering it to death with a club?

That might be the case if the fishermen were crack marksmen operating in ideal conditions. However, they are often poor shots, use decrepit firearms and fire at the animals from the deck of a boat pitching about in a choppy sea. To make the job even more difficult, the seals are also bobbing about in the water or on small pieces of floating, slushy ice. As a result, the fishermen rarely get a clean shot, so many seals are simply wounded and manage to escape. Vast numbers later die a slow, agonizing death from their wounds.

So, it appears that yahoos with guns aren’t a phenomenon unique to rural America.

According to Penman, Canadian authorities stipulate that around 5 percent of the seals are shot and manage to escape. Independent studies, however, reveal that the figure is up around 50 percent. Do the math, as Penman has, and that means 115,000 seal pups will die horribly. And, in just this season alone, 436,000 seal pups in total will be zealously killed by Canadian fishermen — with the tacit approval of their federal government.

Again, just where is the outrage? Canada has pulled this sort of behavior before, in the ’70s and again in the ’80s, but both times they stopped due to worldwide disapproval. Once again, it is time to hit Canada where it really hurts. Penman explains how this can be done:

The [British and other animal welfare] campaigners are not only bearing witness to the horrific slaughter but also organizing a boycott of Canadian fish and tourism. In the 1980s, a similar boycott helped bring an equally horrific cull to a halt. Given that the fishermen receive around 95 percent of their income from fish, they are most vulnerable to a boycott … Virtually all of Canada’s fish exports go to Britain, the U.S. and Japan. Without these valuable markets, the fishermen would have neither the money nor the inclination to kill seals.

More than 400 retailers in the U.S. have already stopped selling Canadian fish … [This] has cost the fishermen $160 million in lost sales. Campaigners hope that the big U.K. supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s will soon join the boycott. If this happens, the sealers will be dealt a crippling blow. The Canadian authorities are clearly rattled by the possibility of such a consumer backlash.

This is good news. A boycott should have some real power behind it. The more businesses and citizens alike boycott Canadian goods, especially fish, and Canadian travel, the more incentive Canada will have to end this latest attempt to capitalize on the seal fur trade. It is also great news that American retailers are refusing to sell Canadian fish — after all, this probably violates a free trade clause inherent in NAFTA, but if the Canadians complain, hopefully the U.S. will assert the right of American businesses to make independent decisions regardless of the free trade pact.

And, as this BBC sponsored thread on the subject from two years ago demonstrates, there is at least some outrage to be reckoned with, although the pro-cull peanut gallery pipes up as well in spots.

If anyone is inclined to feel sorry for Newfoundland’s poor hick population, just consider what Professor Stephen Harris, a wildlife expert at the University of Bristol, who also has witnessed the seal culls, has to say about it:

“The impression I got,” said Harris, “was of the fishermen’s complete indifference to suffering. It’s the worst kind of cruelty I have ever seen and the fishermen clearly don’t give a damn.”

Mark Glover, of the British animal charity Respect For Animals, agrees that a boycott of anything Canadian is the only way forward to help end the slaughter.

“Canadian fish comes steeped in the blood of countless seals. Taking holidays in Canada and buying anything Canadian helps fuel the slaughter.”

All due credit must also go to those brave Canadian citizens themselves who oppose the seal culls and who are distressed at the fact that ever-growing numbers of Americans, Brits and Europeans are starting to see their nation as greedy, opportunistic and uncivilized — which, if Canada keeps sanctioning these awful seal culls, it is.

It is time we realized that it is the fault of humans, not seals, that stocks of cod are beginning to dwindle. It is we who are overfishing. It is time to stop murdering innocent animals simply because it’s convenient to put the onus on them for a depressed economy in the Canadian Maritimes. This has absolutely nothing to do with Canada’s indigenous population — the Inuits — as they have their own province, Nunavut, and govern themselves. Their way of life is in no way threatened by ceasing the seal cull. After all, if you look at those doing the killing, they are nearly always white, not Inuit, men.

Could it be that Canada is not quite the hippy-dippy utopia others so often make it out to be? Having waged a prolonged war against one of its own native mammals, how could it be?

We can stop this massacre on Canada’s Atlantic seaboard. We can force Ottawa to realize their mistake in approving and financing this evil trade and to reverse legislation in favor of the fishermen. But, we must also make it clear to the Canadians that this must be the last time they ever try anything like this, because they will only wait another decade and try it again. This time, we must hammer the final nail into the coffin of the Canadian seal culls.

The only question is, can most of the world stop their anti-American, anti-war protests long enough to consider protesting another source North American sponsored brutality?

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About Nightdragon

  • Aside from the obvious unpleasantness of the seal culls, this article is a real tribute to the stupidity of reporters.

    If you want to report on a group, you don’t approach them in the company of their enemies. That’s going to make them immediately hostile and make it much harder to get the story.

    If the reporters had come to the fishermen and said they were there to do a documentary on their rugged lifestyle, had a few beers with them and acted like regular folks, then they likely could have tagged along on a seal hunt unmolested.

    Regardless of how you feel about the seal slaughter, the fishermen deserve or at least expect to be treated with respect as human beings, and this is part of how they’ve kept their families fed for years in a difficult environment, so threatening it isn’t going to make them terribly friendly towards you.

    In protesting the seal hunts, which seems like a fine idea, I’d like to see the protestors give some thought to how they’re going to replace that source of income for the fishermen whose catches have been declining in recent years.


  • Funny how no one ever complains about how snow crab is prepared (which is to rip the legs off while the animal is still alive). Who doesn’t like cute and fuzzy snowcrabs right?

    Enough with the seal hunt business already. If they weren’t so cute, no one would really pay attention. But hunt is hunt. The seal population is too big to begin with. I’m a card carrying member of Greenpeace and even I can see what this is.

    This is just a media storm caused by aging rockstars and the worst female icon of all time backed up with 30 year old video of how it was done back then but saying that this is how it’s still done. Big Shock. Otherwise this would get no attention.

    Getting that steak on your plate is an ugly process no one really wants to know about, but still we eat the steak. And yes I’m sure there are more humane ways to slaughter them.

    You REALLY want to help the environment? Stop chocking it with all the emissions. Stop consumming everything advertised to you. All this will help the environment myriad times better than saving the cute and fuzzy seal pups. The seal pups is “la cause du jour” but the most important problem keeps getting ignored, because that means a real effort and sacrifice of comffort is needed of everyone.

    • US cattle growth produces 89 tons of crap, as in waste every second, every second. Where do you think that goes? Hint, it’s the same source of something we need to drink everyday to live.
    • Speaking of water. It takes 7 pounds of grain to produce that 1 pound of steak on your plates. And for every pound of grain, it takes an addtional 1000 pounds of water to produce it. Keep this in mind as currently 1.1 billion humans go without drinking water on a daily basis and that by 2050 there will be 10 billion humans and with climactic change it is projected that over 4 billion will be without water. Not to mention all those people starving in the world because they have no access to grain, you know that grains fed to those animals?
    • Most cattle are fed soya. Soya is a tiny plant for whose growth, South American countries are GUTTING the globe’s lungs, the rain forrest.
    • Most North-American’s consumption level is so high that if everyone else on the planet consummed so much, 5 more planets would be needed to meet the demand. Now think of China adding itself fastly to this list of super-consummers.

    No offense but the cute and fuzzy seal pups are a drop in the bucket when cosidering the bigger problems at large.

  • sandra

    You know Dave, just because someone makes a living of something doesn’t mean it should be allowed to be continued. German factory workers made a living out of or manufacturing gas chambers as well…….should we have left Hitler in power because he brought jobs to them?? You need to get a clue.

  • “No offense but the cute and fuzzy seal pups are a drop in the bucket when cosidering the bigger problems at large.”

    Jeliel, I don’t drive, turn off lights when they’re not needed and I avidly recycle. I’m doing my part. This is just an excuse for you to roll your eyes, treat this issue with a jaded attitude – oh, it’s the lure of aged rocks stars only! – and cut the Canadians some slack that they don’t deserve at all. Another great example of how the Left and Right alike don’t care about this.

    Oh, and Dave, whose fault is it that the Canadian Martimes, especially Newfoundland, can’t be dragged into the 21st century? Teach these people to do something useful. Hire them to be hitmen, since they appear to have enough of a vicious streak. Or keep them on welfare all year long. I don’t care. The only reason the Canadian gov’t gives these low-browed thugs work in the first place is because just one month of bloodthirsty work gives them enough for the rest of the year. You want to help with the seal cull protest. Then make a firm decision and stop talking out of both sides of your mouth, please. ~ MEM

  • Mark I don’t take kindly you refering to Canadians as bloodthirsty thugs. I guess you’ve never had to kill your meal? I don’t like seeing animals get killed, but that’s just how it goes. Most of you don’t give a frack about Americans killing civilian Iraquies. I think that’s much more repulsive and barbaric than some seal getting whacked for lunch. Killing humans for artificial reasons. Yeah it’s much more humane.

  • What are the arguments that Canadian politicians make IN FAVOR of this vile annual seal “hunt”? That the seal population is too large, and that the seals feed on fish that Canadian fishermen need to catch and bring to the market in order to make a living?

    Is the Canadian seal population growing in such large numbers (like American deer or alligators) that a “hunting” season is actually required to keep the population in stasis?

    Are North Atlantic fish really decreasing in significant numbers? And, if so, is this mostly caused by the seals or by overfishing?

    I would appreciate some data on this, before I fully form my opinion on this matter. Because, while I find the annual seal “hunt” to be disgusting, perhaps it is a neccesary evil…

  • For info on seals and cod check this link. Apparently the cod they eat are mostly not the same as those harvested for humans to eat. However, their population has exploded because their natural predators are in decline and no one is hunting them. We’re talking 8% increase in population per year in the St Lawrence and 13% increase per year in the Atlantic. At that rate the population would double every 6 years.

    By my estimate based on a 1994 population census of 4.1 million seals there should currently be something like 16 million seals in the area now. The culling is for about 325,000 seals. That was enough to stabilize the population when it was approved in the 1990s, but it needed to have been done THEN to be effective. Killing that many now will barely slow the seal population explosion. Without the culling there will be more seals than there are human beings in North America by 2040. Not that this will happen, because by then they will have eaten every edible fish in the North Atlantic and will have begun starving to death in massive numbers.

    The choice appears to be to humanely kill a few hundred thousand seals now AND every year for the next decade or more, or watch millions of them starve after they totally destroy all fishing in the North Atlantic and anywhere else they migrate to.

    That or find a way to bring back the predators that eat them and do it in appropriately huge numbers – of course that will take too long and by the time you have enough new Orcas and Wolves and Bears available we’ll all be buried under starving seals.


  • Jeliel³:
    (1) I will ignore that comment about Iraq as I expected it. Post-war planning on the part of the Americans was a disgrace and civilians are dying because of it, yes. But still, wouldn’t these Iraqis – especially the Shia – continue to die anyway under Saddam and the Ba’athists? The answer, I feel confident, is an unequivocal “yes.”

    (2) I am totally with you with regard to your comment regarding “stop consuming everything advertised to you.” I actually work in advertising and I get so annoyed with all the latest technology promos. Does Britain – or anywhere – really need 10 independent outlets at which to get mobile phones – and iPods, LCD TVs and video gaming systems? And when those all become obselete in six months, we’ll advertise the latest round of mobile phones, audio/visual accesories and videogaming systems, which will be state-of-the-art only three months that time around! Hey, just trash that obselete junk, you’ve got a duty to BUY and CONSUME, CONSUME, CONSUME. I’m not anti-capitalist nor a Luddite, but jeez, the landfills are filling up with products that have nothing technically wrong with them – they’re just “too old.” Most of your comments with regard to the environment were spot on – I just disagree with the nonchalance with which you view the seal culls.

    (3) I don’t eat meat – I’m a vegetarian – so I am not being hypocritical with regard to how steak gets on my plate. Steak never touches my plate.

    RJ and Dave:
    Listen, they could be controlled in the manner of deer culls in the States, with strictly set targets and quick, human shooting, but there is nothing controlled about the seal culls. Just free license given to fishermen by the gov’t to slay these seals any way they like. The Canadian government is unconcerned about whether or not they stop at the 325,000 limit or not. The seals could go extinct for all they care.

  • I’m a selfconfessed animal rights tree hugging whatever, but as Dave pointed out the Seal population is a considerable problem, not due to any fault of their own unfortunately, but we can’t rewrite history or change what we did to screw the environment in the past.

    To say that they are a threat to the Cod stocks is ridiculous, the Cod stocks were destroyed by overfishing period. People setting up offshore, outside the 200 mile limit with canning ships caused more damage to the Grande Bank’s Cod population than any number of seals could.

    Newfoundland has always been the poor cousin in Canada. It was the last province to join the country, 1948 or 49, and a lot of them still regret that decision. Hell they even have a different time zone from the rest of North America.

    Until recently all they’ve ever had were fish and the seal hunt and even when the Cod were running it was a tenuous existance dependant on economic forces beyond the fisherman’s control. In Canada we even had to invent a specific type of Unemployment Insurance and Income Tax form for the fishermen because they led such a different life from the rest of us.

    There are no real economic benefits to the seal hunt, except for the few bucks each person might make as a bounty, because the market for the fur has evaporated. The fact that they leave the corpses to rot, shows you that nobody is doing anything in the way of even making dog food from the bodies.

    (Mark, I have never heard anyone defend the seal hunt of the coast of Newfoundland with the arguement of preserving traditional Native hunting rights. No native, I’d hope, would leave the carcasses to rot. Anyway the last Beothunk died around the turn of the century, so there aren’t any natives on the Island anymore, they killed them off along with the other predators)

    For their own sake the population needs to be controlled, before disease and famine have the chance of doing horrible damage to them. But what’s needed is proper conservation methods. Dave mentioned the difficulties involved in reintroducing the large pretadors needed to stabalize the population, and he’s right. That’s not a quick fix.

    What has to happen is we need to start doing that and encourage the development of that population, just like we have re-introduced other animals back into their natural habitat to help stablalize eco-systems. But that will take time, need monitoring, money, manpower, and most importantly political will.

    The confrantational attitude taken by far too many people against the hunt doesn’t help matters, because they don’t off any viable solutions. All it does it get people’s backs up and leads to the confrontations described in this article.

    What we should be doing, I’m Canadian as you know, so I’m taking collective responsiblity here, is taking the people who know the area training them to do the jobs of monitoring the populations, protecting newly introduced predators, and collecting all data that is pertanent to this type of massive eco-system restoration.

    You give people full time jobs, you make them feel like they are doing something consructive to save their communities, and you’re restoring the balance of nature that we screwed to begin with. It will take years to accomplish, and during that time the hunt will have to continue, but if people like Greenpeace and Sir. Paul want to do something positive they should be looking to funding concepts like this with the aim of gradually getting rid of the excuses for the hunt.

    Seal populations will return to normal, people will have far better and more secure jobs than they’ve ever had, and the balance of the ecosystem will be restored.

    Lets stop the scare mongering and confrontations and maybe try to solve the problem instead for a change.


  • Richard:

    Thanks for the honest, tempered and very reasonable argument, and I guess I went overboard here in so viciously attacking your nation. Yes, I agree with you (and Dave) that the seals just may end up dying in large numbers due to starvation anyway. Cull some of the population to take the pressure off the environment and their own chances of survival. Maybe it’s necessary. Isn’t there a much less brutal and considerably less bloody way to do it though? If the Canadian gov’t cared enough, they could surely bring in experts to formulate a much more humane policy of thinning the seal population. The onus would then be on the Newfie fishermen to explain where theirs is the best solution – which, against a more sanitized and scientific solution, they could not do.

    But it isn’t just about fishing and fishermen’s livelihoods, is it? As I mentioned, the fishermen take the pelt and get money for that. And, seeing as how the Canadian gov’t funds the culls, giving free license to the Newfies to engage in their haphazard wholesale slaughter, aren’t they at least indirectly fuelling the fur trade? I am very anti-fur and this also explains my rage against Canada for allowing this.

    And we are totally agreed on bringing Newfoundland in line with the rest of rich, successful Canada. Just as America had to invest in the Deep South to combat widespread poverty down there (and to increase Southerners’ chances of feeling like bona fide Americans), it sounds as if Canada must do the exact same for Newfoundland. Invest there, give them some pride, make them happy to be part of Canada: Throwing large sums of money at them to kill the seals in any manner they like will do nothing to help bring them into the 21st century nor will it enrich the province in any way.

    However, having said this, seal culls also occur in Quebec, though not on such a horrific scale as in NF.

    But until such a day comes when Canada finds another, more humane way to deal with their seal population, I will continue to encourage a boycott of Canadian goods and travel. That is the only way I see of ending the cruelty. ~ MEM

  • This is not the first time I’ve tackled this subject either. I refer everyone to this piece as well.

  • (1) I will ignore that comment about Iraq as I expected it. Post-war planning on the part of the Americans was a disgrace and civilians are dying because of it, yes. But still, wouldn’t these Iraqis – especially the Shia – continue to die anyway under Saddam and the Ba’athists? The answer, I feel confident, is an unequivocal “yes.”

    Yes it was inevitable that it would be brought up, still, is that (see above) a justifiable excuse to kill children? Lets take over the killing for you? The answer, I feel confident, is an unequivocal “no”. The war was unjust on all justifications the admin gave. And a humanitarian disaster. If evil dictatorships that kill their own people must be removed, why is the US playing kissy kissy with China?

    (3) I don’t eat meat – I’m a vegetarian – so I am not being hypocritical with regard to how steak gets on my plate. Steak never touches my plate.

    I was a vegetarian for years but I just can’t turn away from meat. I’m still a supporter (financial) of The Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace. But I still believe that the seal hunt is FAR from being as bad as the media and those aging rockstars make it out to be. They are acting like we are maliciously slaughtering the seals into extinction. Which is very far from the truth, it’s more about equilibrium than anything else.

    Go see Japan who are hunting whales to extinction and using powerfull lobbies at the UN to legislate it into lawfulness because they want it for products that can all be synthesized anyway or for obselete traditions. Don’t hear anyone screaming about that. That’s where my cute and fuzzy argument comes in.

  • “They are acting like we are maliciously slaughtering the seals into extinction. Which is very far from the truth”

    How you can say this, especially as a member of Greenpeace, is beyond me. You must be blind, J. Either that, or Greenpeace is as useless as the World Wildlife Federation is … or you’re just giving Canada a pass because they’re just so damn groovy, dude! Why don’t you contact Danny Penman of The Daily Mail and let him know that you think his experiences and what he witnessed must be fake?! He must surely be making it all up just to incite the animal lovers of middle England!

    “Go see Japan who are hunting whales to extinction”

    Yes, I already knew about Japan and whales and I oppose that too.

  • Joanne

    I am also deeply saddened and yet extremely hopeful about the plight of the harp seal and other atrocities discussed here today!! Individuals writing seem to be expressing themselves in very unique and quite formidable ways as a response to what appears to be grief and shock at man’s inhumanity to man, often occurring first and foremost to the softer, shyer ones of the planet. I hope it goes well for you all. Peter Singer and the others attempting to alight the ice in order to do some damage through footage are special, brave souls. Thank you for your efforts and your help. We need you!! The truth hurts.

  • Jo

    All my apologies to Mr. Penman. Your efforts to get on the ice are most appreciated as an observor and one who cheers you on!

    Thank you very much for your efforts and kindness. We love you!!

  • I think this hunt is not necessary. Do they also eat the seals or just take their fur???? I plain and simple do not agree with this slaughter of innocent creatures or the slaughter of innocent people in Iraq. Let’s keep abreast of this issue.

  • Some misconceptions need to be addressed here.

    First off, I know you don’t want to hear this, but the US role in Iraq has nothing to do with killing children – in fact, the war has been over for more than two years as an actual war, and the role of US troops right now is to protect children from terrorist bombers who strike indiscriminately.

    Next, the slaughter of seals has very little to do with food or furs, it’s about seal overpopulation. As I said before – and this is why some environmentalists support it – the seal population is enormous and growing fast. With their natural predators gone they are going to breed themselves into mass starvation with far more horrible consequences if nothing is done about it. The slaughter could be more humane. I’d support shooting the seals, and eliminating 5 times as many of them as a real solution to the problem. Plus, remove them and sell the meat for dogfood.

    Those trying to ‘expose’ the slaughter are essentially sensationalizing what’s going on and spreading misinformation to fit their political agenda. The slaughter is horrible and looks very bad, so it’s a great way to stir up the public outrage. But the fact is that the objective is humane. Frankly, I don’t need hundreds of dead seals washing up on the rocks infront of my house in Maine, and that’s what’s going to happen every year if something isn’t done. When it does maybe I should sue these arrogant environmentalists for the cost of removing the rotting carcasses.


  • We agree totally on Iraq, Dave. Unfortunately, it appears you haven’t got enough of a heart to demand a better way of thinning the seal herd – you have obviously decided to throw your full support being the barbarous status quo method. Disappointing, to say the least.

  • The human population is in serious need to thinning too – 10 billion people predicted by 2010. This will cause even more human suffering, more tragic famines, wars, various other conflicts, etc.

    So, why don’t we just club or shoot some humans and leave their carcasses to just rot?

    Oh, yeah, I forgot. We’re the only creature on this planet that matters or has a right to inhabit it. Yep, sounds about right!

  • Mark, are you suggesting some form of seal birth control in #18? that seems a bit impractical.

    As for limiting human population growth, that is indeed what wars and famine and epidemics are for. Their emergence is directly related to human overpopulation.

    But, the fact is that with modern agricultural techniques we’re more than capable of feeding 10 billion people. All the starvation and mistreatment of populations which goes on today is political in origin, not the result of the inability to grow food.


  • You are only half right. You forgot one thing in your argument, is that these animals that populate the earth with us need to eat also. Their source of food is the same as ours. Right now, according to David Suzuki, we are about to pop

    David Suzuki and Holly Dressel in their book “From Naked Ape to Superspecies” quote a graphic example put forward by University of Colorado physicist Arthur Bartlett that shows some of the unexpected consequences of exponential population growth. He suggested that we imagine a test tube full of the food for bacteria, and to imagine that we introduce a single bacterium into it of a species that that will divide once each minute. The test tube starts with one cell. A minute later, there are two bacteria; in two minutes, four; in three minutes, eight and so on. Because the population is doubling every minute it is an example of exponential population growth. At 60 minutes in this example, the test tube is full of bacteria and all the food has been eaten.

    So here’s the big question: when was the test tube half full? The answer, of course, is at 59 minutes. We have to remember that the population is doubling each minute. This means that at 58 minutes, it was a quarter full; at 57 minutes, an eight full; and so on.


    Most scientists now believe that the human population is well into its 59th minute, yet we are still not doing anything with a significant chance of helping us avoid the fate our species faces unless we move quickly to defuse our population explosion, or to produce even more food.

    Taken from PBS

  • Bridget Curran

    Why are sealing supporters still demanding that alternatives be found for the poor fishermen/sealers? Sealing opponents have suggested numerous viable employment alternatives throughout the years, all of which have been dismissed by sealers and government with no consideration. Harvesting molted hairs for use in textile and bedding industries in Canada and Europe, license-buy back schemes and eco-tourism programs are but a few. If there is no other employment in Newfoundland and sealers are forced, as they claim, to take part in the seal slaughter to make ends meet, why then have they rejected all suggestions put forth? Do they not want to learn a new trade or do they just enjoy killing things? I’ve grown weary of the argument that there is nothing else they can do to feed their families. They have other opportunities but are too stubborn to meet the challenge of the new and unknown.

    When DFO claims the harp seal population has tripled since the 70s, we must remember that due to serious overhunting during the 1950s to 1970s, the seal population was actually dangerously low. To say the population has tripled not necessarily mean there are too many seals now. In estimating populations in years to come, we need to also taken into account increases in natural mortality rate due to global warming (which we saw this year, with the nursery floes melting, causing many pups to drown) and disease (which is on the increase amongst various species of seals. Please see this: fisherycrisis.com

    I have seen the commercial seal slaughter (I will not dignify it by calling it a “hunt”, as it is no such thing) defended as being part of the Inuit way of life. Government and sealing supporters like to throw the Inuit hunt into the mix to muddy the issue and to try to shame the public by using the ‘cultural racism’ card. The Canadian government has been manipulating the Inuit population into believing their own way of life is being threatened (which it is not). As a result, we are seeing Inuit denouncing sealing opponents, accusing them of cultural racism and waving ‘Save Our Veal’ posters in the air, whilst the government hides behind them.

    Dave, shooting seals is not a more humane way to kill seals, as Mr. Penman details in his report from The Front.

    As for selling the meat for dogfood, etc., there is evidence now that seal products are actually hazardous to utilize in any way. Because Canada considers seals to be “fish” rather than “mammal”, the disease testing that is mandatory for livestock is not mandatory or even encouraged for seals. Seal products are processed and sold on with no testing and as a result diseases carried by some seals are being passed on to humans. Again, see fisherycrisis.com for details.

    If the objective of the seal slaughter were, as Dave Nalle suggests, then the hunt would be conducted in a humane manner. As we’ve heard in eyewitness testimony, read in veterinary reports and seen in video footage, the commercial seal slaughter is anything BUT humane. According to a 2002 report in Canadian Veterinary Journal, 87% of sealers do not ensure the seal is dead or incapable of regaining consciousness before skinning, hooking or leaving on the ice to make their next kill. The very nature of the slaughter is inhumane, with seals suffering fear and pain. Seals are being improperly killed, left stunned to regain consciousness and choke to death on their own blood. Seals are being skinned alive in some instances. Seals are being wounded and manage to escape to die slow deaths from their wounds or perishing by drowning. Training for licensed sealers is not mandatory but rather only “encouraged”. The slaughter is NOT regulated. A DFO spokesman has stated that quotas cannot be closely monitored because there are too many boats taking part. If they cannot regulate the amount of kills, how can they claim to regulate the humanity of the kills?

    At the end of the day, the commercial seal slaughter is horrenously inhumane. Nothing – absolutely nothing – can justify it. Personally, as a Canadian, I am heartily ashamed of my country and fellow countrymen who allow this slaughter to occur year after year through their apathy or blind acceptance of the lies spoon-fed to them by the Canadian government and pro-sealing groups.

    Thank you, Mark, for posting this in your blog. I salute both yourself and Mr. Penman for your attempts to get the truth out.