Friday, 27 November 2015

Rule #41: Canadian seal hunt

Seals are large animals and there’s a lot of blood when you shoot them, slice their throat or whack them in the head with a club or hakapik. Personally, I cannot stomach watching seals get whacked or offed or whacked off. However, I don’t hunt or choose to loiter in a cattle slaughterhouse either. I have no desire to watch live cows have their heads cut off. I know it happens and I love a good T-bone marinated in red wine and tequila, but I choose to leave the morality up to the regulators.
The sealing industry creates a difficult dynamic. First of all, you can’t build a structure over the entire maritime sealing region to keep it out of the sight of animal rights groups. It’s a vast area and it’s a pretty graphic scene. When you smash a seals skull in, the contrast of bright red blood on white ice is hard to watch. But is it more inhumane than the cattle slaughter that goes on every day of the year in the thousands of slaughterhouses across America? Me thinks not. And what about sport fishing? Do you think fish enjoy being hauled to the surface by a hook speared through the roof of their mouth so some proud fisherman can hold it in the air for 5 minutes while he talks about his fantastic knowledge of water and fish? Why the affection for seals and not fish?
The seal hunt has some ridiculous regulations. A sealer is supposed to check for consciousness after he whacks it in the head before he slices a major artery to bleed it out. If you’re an Inuit sealer in a boat cruising through ice packs in freezing cold weather are you going to get out your stethoscope and check for vitals on every seal you kill? Me thinks not. I’ve watched some video and the fact is, some of these seals are harvested in pretty violent, inhumane fashion. That’s just a reality. It doesn’t happen to every seal and you can’t regulate it. If some sick bastard wanted to sneak onto a cow pasture and torture a cow, there’s not much you can do about it. But you don’t shut down the beef industry because of it.
Despite the fact that seals are cute and the hunt is on world display, the fact is, last spring’s commercial seal hunt off the coast of Newfoundland netted about 91,000 harp seals, far fewer than the federal quota of 400,000. Which means it’s sustainable. That’s a lot more than the world fishery can say.
The recent European Union ban on seal products undermines international trade obligations but is deemed justified due to “public moral concerns” over the animals’ welfare. The bloody images and heated rhetoric combine to pit governments and sealers against animal rights groups. This means the graphic images of cute white seals having their heads bashed in has created this “public moral concern”. Whitecoats are newborn harp seals. Most Canadians can recall pictures of whitecoated seal pups being clubbed. The images were so inflammatory that Canada banned all hunting of whitecoats and bluebacks (otherwise known as hooded seals) in 1987.
For hundreds of years, seals have been hunted for food, the lamp and cooking fuel made from their oil and their warm pelts. Seal products nowadays include leather, meat for animal and human consumption and seal oil, which is rich in Omega-3. As long as their hunted mainly for meat and not just pelts, I have no issue with it.

In the new world, sealing mainly for meat will continue and be tightly regulated.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Hank! While I was able to be around guns or ever go hunting as a child I am from the backwoods of Georgia and I am finding that the older I get the more I realize that hunting is just in my blood. I am currently deployed to Korea with the Army (Where I got to start my experiences with guns) and I am planning and looking forward to getting myself, my wife, and my daughter (when she gets old enough)into hunting when I get back to North Carolina come the end of February. If you know anyone in the area please put a word in for me as my best friend who was my hunting connection has already moved back to Florida.


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