Heal Our Planet Earth
Terminate the Canadian Seal Massacre

Terminate the Canadian Seal Massacre
Commentary on "Woman from the Netherlands Promotes Seal-Based Tourism"

Fellow activists:

The following cartoon is a few years old, I think, but every bit as relevant today as the day it was drawn. Worse now than before in fact, because today, baby seals are drowning due to global warming - "global" "warming", that is, except for the hearts of the sealers, politicians and fisheries ministers in Canada.

"I am Canadian. Boycott my country!"
- Anthony Marr

Following is a new development in the anti-sealing movement - seal-oriented tourism, as proposed and being researched by Lenie Hart, founder of the Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre in the Netherlands. I applaud her initiative and effort.

Australian activist Menkit Prince cautions: "The problem is that sealers could well profit from tourism AND sealing together - I think they already are doing this. Take tourists out to have their picture taken with cute little white seals then a few weeks later bludgeon the poor things." Good point.

The solution dovetails with what I have been calling for all along: Expand the ongoing Canadian seafood boycott to a broader boycott of Canadian goods and services, including tourism. In this case, boycotting Atlantic Canada tourism should be greatly emphasized, even seal-oriented eco-tourism, to be lifted only when seal-killing has been terminated. The sealers will get the point that they cannot have the cake and eat it too.

Below the article is a series of comments by readers, both pro and con. One of the pro-sealers wrote "Do people forget that we, as human, are at the top of the food chain and that all the animals underneath us are expendable. Back 50 years ago there was never an argument about hunting anything. Either people needed to hunt to survive or they needed to hunt to protect their lively-hood. I think it is a shame that these seals come ahead of people who are trying to make a living.....if they continue to over populate, there will be no fisheries left. Give your heads a shake people....are we going to let seals jump ahead of us on the food chain?? They need to be hunted....PERIOD."

The undisguised arrogance notwithstanding, the assertion that seals decimate the fisheries needs to be addressed again and again, because the false accusation arises again and again. The fact of the matter is that only 3% of the Harp seal's diet comprises cod, and the other 97% comprises about 20 species of predatory fish and squid that prey upon cod. The seals keep these other species in check, and all fish species, including cod, in balance. Our children's future risks being irreparably damaged by the medieval doctrine of these club-swinging living-anachronisms.

In support of this, there was a seal hunt from 1939 to 1969 on the West Coast, where the cod-equivalent are the salmon, and where there are also some 20 species of salmon predators. Contrary to popular prediction, the salmon crashed in the 1960s, when the seals had been decimated, and rebounded in the 1980s and 1990s, after the seal population had itself rebounded. Science does not work by different rules just because the sealers say so.

Anthony Marr, founder
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)

PS - Note on Cartoon posted above...
Still, as a Canadian, I have to say this in my own defence, "Except for the commercial seal massacre, and the continued cultural killing of the critically endangered Eastern Arctic Bowhead whale by the Canadian Inuits (who openly support the commercial seal massacre), and selling out its endangered, threatened and vulnerable wildlife including the grizzly bear, polar bear, elk, big-horn sheep, moose, deer... to foreign trophy hunters, and being the Premarin Capital of the World, and the clearcutting of old growth forests, and being the biggest per-capita energy consumers in the world, and the leadership following the 'lead' of George W. Bush in not honoring our Kyoto commitment..., Canada is a pretty civilized country."

I also heard back from a pro-sealer, saying, "You live on the West Coast, so mind your own fxxking business." Sure, buddy, as soon as I don't have to bear your shame when I go traveling outside of Canada.

Woman from The Netherlands promotes seal-based tourism
The Guardian

Photo (Right): Lenie Hart, founder of the Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre in the Netherlands, is on Prince Edward Island this week to lay the groundwork for creating a seal-based tourism industry. Guardian photo

The founder of the Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre in the Netherlands is on Prince Edward Island this week to lay the groundwork for the creation of a seal-based tourism industry and a type of buyout program that would encourage Island sealers to give up the hunt.

Lenie Hart, who began her world-renowned centre 35 years ago, said she is not here to tell the Canadian people what to do, she simply wants them to see what peoples interest in seals has done for her small village, and how the same thing could be happening here.

She said Prince Edward Island is the prime location in relation to the sealing birthing grounds, and its small number of sealers (22) makes it a perfect place to start this tourism concept in earnest.

Seal tourism now brings $1 million Euro to our small village, she said.

Hart said it is important to remember that whether Islanders are for or against a seal hunt is immaterial. It has absolutely no bearing on how successful a seal-oriented tourism program can be.

People from all over the world are hugely interested in seals and it is that interest that can be capitalized on by Prince Edward Island.

Hart met with some of the 22 Island fishermen who are licensed sealers before doing anything else.

She wanted to get their feelings about the possibility of making money from tourism rather than the hunt.

I am here for business, not anti-sealing campaigning. I have talked to the fishermen here and they are clear that they join the hunt because of the money, not because they have a passion for the hunt.

In Hart's opinion there are two victims in this issue: the seals and the fishermen.

She said celebrities fly in and take helicopters to the ice and take pictures that are spread around the world, yet people have no idea what fishermen are going through.

Hart and her organization are willing to back up their proposal by securing the money to get it off the ground, if the fishermen are interested, and if there is interest in creating a good seal information centre for tourism in general.

When we can make a deal we will find the funds to pay the fishermen to stay home for the season, she said.

At the same time we will offer information and financial aid for the tourism industry information component.

At home, in Pieterburen, The Netherlands, Hart's Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre works with mammals affected by oil spills, being caught in nets, stranding, or any other catastrophes.

The centre responds to problems and disasters all over the world.

More than 200 affected animals wash up on the Atlantic shores of The Netherlands and adjoining coast lines every year.

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