April 12, 2012
The Opening of "the Front"
by Rebecca Aldworth
Today, half an hour before dawn, the commercial seal hunt opened off the northeast coast of Newfoundland in an area known locally as “the Front.” Twenty-seven sealing vessels have reportedly hailed out to participate, and it is expected that a large number of seals will die here over the coming days. Unfortunately, freezing rain and fog have grounded the Protect Seals team’s aircraft, and we are unable to travel to the scene this morning to document the slaughter.
It is a terrible feeling to know that this killing will go on today without witnesses, and we are devastated as we wait for the weather to clear. As the minutes go by, it only seems to be getting worse. Our only hope is that the conditions that are keeping us from reaching the area are also holding back the sealers and their vessels.
Our fight continues
Still, we won’t waste a moment—we are spending this down time working to end the slaughter for good. The images we filmed yesterday are already being sent around the world, to show that the killing results in just as much suffering as ever. By showing caring people the cruel origins of seal products, we can end the demand for them, and in doing so, end the hunt.
Though the seal slaughter has been financed by the provincial government this year, this kind of subsidy cannot continue in the longer term. We simply have to ensure that the seal product trade bans that we’ve achieved remain in place, and that more countries take similar action. The Canadian government is increasingly isolated in its promotion of commercial sealing, and soon the pressure to stop will be overwhelming.
Yesterday, as we left the sealing grounds, we saw a few pups who were far away from the slaughter, and will likely survive as a result. As I watched them sleep and play on the ice, it struck me how very small, young and defenseless they are. And it crystallized for me how important our role is here. We are their voice and their witnesses. And we won’t go anywhere until they are safe.
Rebecca Aldworth is executive director of HSI/Canada.