May 1, 2003
Atlantic Canada Bureau Chief Kelly Toughill spent 11
days aboard a sealing boat off Newfoundland in early April. Her
seven-part series explores the myths and
realities of the annual hunt.
Part One: Where myths collide
Part Two: Thrill of the kill
Part Three: Hunt is gory but swift
Part Four: Disaster a misstep away
Part Five: Turning to unlikely ally
Part Six: Buried in good fortune
LETTER TO THE EDITOR PUBLISHED REGARDING CANADIAN SEAL
Northern Pride's crew members may be good men but their
business of killing is ugly and backward.
Re: Thrill of the kill overcomes fear April 27.
I strongly disapprove of Kelly Toughill's effort to
endear Torontonians to the seal hunt.
I sincerely believe that the men who "man" the Northern
Pride are as kindhearted as she suggests and I also sympathize with the
depressed economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is unfortunate that
the federal government cannot find a formula to aid the region's
slumping economy and that fish stocks have not recovered from their
exploitation. This, however, is not relevant to our consideration of the
This industry gives rise to considerable and unnecessary
suffering. Further, sealing is not a solution to the weak economy of the
East and should be banned or severely restricted.
In 2001, an independent group of five respected
veterinarians studied the practices of Canada's sealing industry. They
found that 79 per cent of sealers do not even check to see if the seal
is dead before proceeding to skin. In examining the bodies of seals, the
veterinarians determined that it is probable that 42 per cent of seals
were likely conscious while they were quickly skinned alive. They
concluded that the government's regulations, which attempt to ensure
that the hunt is humane, are not followed or enforced.
From this, they asserted that the seal hunt results in
considerable and unnecessary suffering for the seals.
As a pragmatist, I respect the need for industry and
money in Newfoundland. However, I also recognize that this is not an
excuse to regress as a society. Newfoundland and Labrador needs
creativity and innovation to spur its economy, not this cruel and
archaic business. There are many other options that must be explored.
A look at history indicates that stagnant economies
recover through innovation and creativity, not a shortsighted reversion
to the past.
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