Animal Writes
From 4 May 2003 Issue

Seeking The Truth About The Seal Hunt

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



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 sealing industry.

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.

Michael Manulak,
Executive Director
Greenpower Canada

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