By Laura Jean Grant
SYDNEY -- A new iPhone application launched last week by the Humane Society of the United States is misleading and misplaced, according to one Cape Breton fisherman.
The app allows users to easily locate American restaurants, food suppliers and chefs who support boycotting Canadian seafood products until the country ends what the society describes as the 'annual slaughter of baby seals.'
'(We) are sending a clear message to Canada's fishing industry that its commercial seal slaughter must end now,' John Grandy, senior vice-president of wildlife for the humane society, said in a release. 'With the launch of this new iPhone app, consumers have a quick and easy way to bring their economic power to bear against this annual slaughter.'
But Robert Courtney, president of the North of Smokey/Inverness South Fishermen's Association and a spokesman for licensed sealers in Nova Scotia, said campaigns like this are based on misconceptions about the industry and what actually takes place on the ice during the hunts.
Courtney also questioned how many restaurants on the humane society's list ever carried Canadian seafood products in the first place, and wonders why the entire seafood industry is being targeted by the humane society.
'There's some seafood producers in Canada that don't do anything with the seal hunt, don't have any connections with the seal hunt, so why would they be boycotting those people?' he said. 'That alone tells about (their) credibility.'
Courtney said long-standing opposition to the seal hunt has played a role in diminishing markets for seal products, but argues the seal population must still be controlled, whether there is a market for the product or not.
'Sealers would prefer to be able to go harvest a seal and fully utilize the animal and we've put a lot of man hours and a lot of effort into doing that,' he said, noting they've done everything 'possible to have a sustainable, humane harvest.'
The humane society app, dubbed protect seals, is a free resource for the iPhone, and will soon be offered for other smartphone platforms.
The humane society states that support for the boycott of Canadian seafood is growing, with more than 5,500 restaurants and grocery stores participating, including Lowe's Foods, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Caf's, Ted Turner's Ted's Montana Grill, and Whole Foods Markets. A complete list can be found at www.humanesociety.org/protectseals .
Last week, Courtney told the Cape Breton Post, that the fishermen's association will be monitoring ice conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and markets around the world to decide whether to hunt for harp seals this year, noting ice conditions don't appear very promising at this point.
Last month, he said a grey seal hunt on Hay Island off Cape Breton is looking doubtful this year because of a lack of markets.
The Humane Society of the United States has released an iPhone app directed at boycotting Canadian seafood.
Published on February 28, 2012
By Sheila Dabu Nonato
The Canadian government is dismissing a provocative new iPhone app set up by the Humane Society of the United States that is aggressively targeting Canada's seal industry as a recycled campaign of 'old tricks' and 'misinformation.'
The society is calling for a boycott of all Canadian seafood products until the Canadian government ends the so-called 'cruel' and 'needless' slaying of baby seals.
A spokeswoman for Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield told Postmedia News in an email that this recent campaign is spreading 'misinformation.'
'We believe that consumers should be free to make their own purchasing decisions based on the facts ' that Canadian seafood products are among the best in the world and that the seal harvest is sustainable, humane, and profitable,' she said.
Anti-sealing activists launched a similar campaign in 2005 which failed, the spokesperson noted in an email.
'Many large American purchasers of Canadian seafood did not join the 2005 campaign after learning the facts about the hunt,' she said.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, the app 'allows users to locate restaurants and food suppliers who support boycotting Canadian seafood products until the country ends its annual slaughter of baby seals.'
The 'protect seals' app is a free resource available on iPhone and soon will be available on other smartphones. The app was launched Thursday at a splashy event in San Francisco, which included American chefs under the banner of 'Chefs for Seals' and 'America's Next Top Model' photographer Nigel Barker.
The event 'drew attention to the plight of seals on Canada's East Coast and spotlighted the more than 100 compassionate chefs in the Bay Area who have joined in trying to save them,' the group said in a statement.
'The many Bay Area chefs who have joined The Humane Society of the United States boycott of Canadian seafood are sending a clear message to Canada's fishing industry that its commercial seal slaughter must end now,' said John Grandy, the society's senior vice-president of wildlife. 'With the launch of the iPhone app, consumers have a quick and easy way to bring their economic power to bear against this annual slaughter.'
On its website, the Fisheries Department notes that Canada's seal harvesting practices are 'among the best in the world,' guided by rigorous internationally recognized animal-welfare principles which are enforced by the government 'to the fullest extent of the law.'
The Canadian government will work with American companies and consumers to ensure they're getting the 'real facts about Canada's sealing industry,' according to Ashfield's spokeswoman.
'Veterinarians have found that the tools used by sealers are at least as humane, and often more humane than, the killing methods used in commercial slaughterhouses, which are accepted by the majority of the public,' she said.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Sealers Association declares on its website that baby seals are never harvested in Canada, where the practice has been banned since 1987.
In an online post called 'Myths And Realities: The Atlantic Canada Seal Hunt,' the association said, 'Marine Mammal Regulations prohibit the trade, sale or barter of the fur of these pups. Furthermore, adult seals cannot be harvested when they are in breeding or birthing grounds and younger seals must be weaned, self-reliant and independent.'
The Atlantic Canada-based association was formed in 1982 'in response to negative publicity against the sealing industry by some animal rights groups,' according to its website.
It represents more than 6,000 sealers who are professional fishers licensed by the Canadian government.
Canadian sealers harvested 40,000 seals in 2011 when the government quota was set at 335,000, according to the Canadian Sealers Association.
Grey Seal Hunt Comment: BRIDGET CURRAN - February 27, 2012
- February 27, 2012 at 14:03:30
Duff, nobody depends on the seal hunt to survive. It's an off-season activity that provides some extra pocket money for fishers who participate in other fisheries during the year. Put away the violin - I know for a fact that some of these sealers make more money than I do and certainly live more lavish lifestyles than I do. I've been to Cape Breton and I've seen some of the big houses fishermen live in. So don't even try that on with me. Quote from person who's seen sealers boarding boats to go on a grey seal killing spree in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia: "They were whooping and hollering and saying "C'mon boys, let's go!" and laughing, as if they were going someplace really great like a hockey game or a big night out on the town. But they were going out to beat and shoot seal pups to death."
I was on Hay Island in 2008 when they were herding together and clubbing screaming seal pups to death with wooden bats, and heard them laughing and joking, calling each other "Batman" and taunting the seal pups saying "C'mre little buddy, I got something for ya!" So yeah, don't even try the old "they have to kill seals to feed their families" crap, because we all know it isn't true. They do it because they LOVE doing it. They LOVE killing baby seals.
And as for never having seen the ocean...there are plenty of people in Atlantic Canada who live close to the ocean who are opposed to the annual seal hunt. Atlantic Canadians care about the health of our oceans and care about our seals, and know the two are intertwined. Seals are top predators and play an important part in our complex marine ecosystem. There is no science to support any claimed necessity for killing seals. There is, however, a wealth of science emerging showing seals are important and should be left alone. Leading Canadian marine biologists are opposed to the culling of seals. Continue burying your head in the sand and ignoring those facts, but do us a favour and stop calling the people who have actually researched the issue and know what they're talking about "idiots." I think we all know who the idiots truly are.
Bridget Curran Atlantic Canadian Anti-Sealing Coalition