May 4, 2012
Seal Slaughter is on Life Support, but Not Ready to Die
Our determination is as powerful as ever
by Rebecca Aldworth
Off Newfoundland’s coast, the fragile sea ice is melting fast, and the sealing vessels have almost all left the sealing grounds. The fishermen who kill seals for a few days in between fishing seasons are turning their attention to other pursuits.
We have also left, for we have in hand the evidence we need to shut this slaughter down for good.
It was unbearable to witness, as terrified, weeks-old old seal pups were ruthlessly and systematically shot, beaten and skinned. I think of one young seal we saw, playing on the pristine sea ice, a perfect picture of innocence and happiness. How, without warning, the sealers shot him, leaving him writhing in agony and blood until they arrived to beat him to death.
It should never have happened.
When the Russian Federation prohibited its trade in harp seal fur last year, one of the few remaining markets for the Canadian sealing industry was eliminated. Sealing industry representatives announced that no companies were prepared to buy seal skins this year, and that the seal hunt would not go ahead in absence of government intervention. Then, the largest seal fur buyer in Canada closed its doors to seal products. For a while, many thought that our work to close markets for seal products had prevailed, and the seals would be safe.
But in an utterly senseless move, the Newfoundland government stepped in, providing $3.6 million in financing to another seal fur buyer, to stockpile seal furs to meet a “future demand” that will likely never materialize.
To date, more than 60,000 baby seals have been killed in this state sponsored slaughter that served only the agendas of the cynical politicians involved.
In lobbying for and accepting this government handout, the sealing industry has revealed itself as the glorified welfare program it is. But even this life support will not be enough to resuscitate an industry that should have ended decades ago.
This year, your support will help us fight even harder to close more global markets for seal products, and to protect the trade bans that are in place. We’ll expand our Protect Seals boycott of Canadian seafood, until the fishing industry has no option but to stop the slaughter. And in Canada, we will continue our crucial work to convince the government to end the seal slaughter through a sealing industry buyout.
This will be the most difficult year yet in our campaign. We are up against powerful governments and a fur lobby that won’t give up easily. But we will not stop, not for a second, until the seals are safe. We are in a race against time, and their lives hang in the balance. For standing with us in our fight to save the baby seals, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Rebecca Aldworth is executive director of HSI/Canada.