Canada's lame excuses for cruel seal hunt

28 August 2008

Canada's lame excuses for cruel seal hunt

Members of the European Parliament received this week in their post a lobbying document from the Canadian government. The Canadians are unhappy about the Netherlands' desire to see an import ban on seal products. SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard has been at the forefront of campaigning in the European Parliament for a ban on the trade in seal fur. The European Commission's proposal on the issue still leaves quite a bit to be done and Canada is really pulling out the stops to find aspects of international regulations which will enable it to fight such a ban.


The importance accorded our little country can be seen from the fact that they have been careful to ensure that the lobbying document has been printed in Dutch. Or did the Canadian government think that we would mistranslate their whining about seals?

The cover in which the Canadian Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture has presented its ‘factsheets’ gives itself away through its use of terms which make no attempt to conceal anything. This isn't, according to the title, about seals but about the 'Seal Industry'. The paper isn't stained with blood, but the contents are dripping with it.


The 'humane practices' referred to inside are doubtful, even if only because of the choice of the word 'industry'. The trapping and skinning of young seals has become a major industrial sector. The age-old practices evoked with nostalgic illustrations have now given way to mass statistics and cold calculations of the economic worth of the hunt. By refusing for years to listen to the arguments of those who sought to protect these animals, the population has been made ever more dependent on the hunt, which "according to some seal hunters is 25-35% of their annual income." The Canadian state should of course have taken steps during recent years to reduce this dependency. Making pitiful noises about "communities with limited economic possibilities" and "being able to give form to your culture via the seal hunt" is almost as perverse as wearing seal fur.


Anyone who has seen the bloody photographic evidence of the hunt's cruelty, and puts these images next to the written pledge that Canada "does not tolerate any inhumane practices" will understand that somebody here is squirming. The smokescreen of "scientific" research calls to mind the wartime practices which were covered by the same term. Canada's political leaders must look to their own consciences and not seek legitimacy in justifications from third parties. As long as recommendations to make the hunt more humane need, by their own admission, to be "studied" by the Canadian authorities, putting an end to the hunt will be the most animal-friendly alternative.

You are here