Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Fisheries and Oceans

My friend Duane sent me this article from, where little Geoffry Regan got his 5 minutes of fame (he didn't even qualify for Warhol's 15 minutes of fame).

So I went to his website, and got his email addresses, and I wrote him this letter:

Mr. Regan, I just finished reading the article on CNN which quotes you on this year's seal hunt.

You can find it at:

Unfortunately, the article erroneously indicates that a culling of the harp seal population will cause a rebound in cod stocks off the coast of Atlantic Canada. As recent scientific evidence has shown, harp seals eat both cod and fish who prey on cod, such that the complex interweavings of this ecosystem is not accurately controlled by controlling only one species. Even the Department of Fisheries and Oceans states this:

"The commercial seal quota is established based on sound conservation principles, not an attempt to assist in the recovery of groundfish stocks. Seals eat cod, but seals also eat other fish that prey on cod. There are several factors contributing to the lack of recovery ofAtlantic cod stocks such as fishing effort, the poor physical condition of the fish, poor growth, unfavourable ocean conditions and low stock productivity at current levels. It is widely accepted in the scientific community that there are many uncertainties in the estimates of the amount of fish consumed by seals. Seals and cod exist in a complex ecosystem, which makes it difficult to find simple solutions to problems such as the lack ofrecovery of cod stocks."

Yet, despite this lack of proof, you have decided to authorize the killing of more than 300,000 seals, and all for what appears to be a cash grab and a subsidizing of an ailing industry.Do you really believe that, when 300,000 seals are murdered, they are killed humanely? Or that they are culled in an environmentally sound way? Even if all seals were shot through the head with a bullet (which is not the case), there is a growing concern among researchers about the impact that the lead from the bullets is having on this ecosystem, as I'm sure you are aware.

Regardless, insiders in the industry know that inhumane killing occurs every day. In the article, you said, "(there is) misleading rhetoric and sensational images that tell a selective, biased and often false story. It is a real disgrace to have such negative light being cast on the Canadian men and women of this industry... These carefully- orchestrated campaigns twist the facts of the seal hunt for the benefit of a few extremely powerful and well-funded organizations."

This minimizes - and perhaps appeases your conscience of - the fact that there is a significant amount of documented proof of these inhumane killings. I fail to see how the images that have been recorded are "false." Some of your hunters are clubbing baby seals - who can reasonably dispute this?

And while I can appreciate you wanting to paint seal hunters in a positive manner, let's call a spade a spade - the seal hunters are killers, plain and simple.

You drew mention of the fact that in the 1970s, seal populations were at a manageable level. Why stop only 30 years ago? Why not remind the public that, before the industrialized fishing industry, ALL species in the oceans were at a manageable and natural level? Let me state my point more clearly - seal and cod populations were in a natural balance before we started overfishing the seas.

Finally, it hurts me to think that these seals are being killed only for their pelts - for the vanity of the fur industry - and to buoy an archaic industry on its last legs. I know that I will boycott Canadian seafood and I will educate others to do the same. I hope that someday, and someday soon, that we will see the end of this horrific and unnecessary act. It shames Canada and it shames me.

Andrew Woods,
Ottawa, Ontario

If you don't like the seal hunt, take a minute out of your day and send an email to Fisheries Minster Geoff Regan. Heck, copy the PM on the letter, too.

(I only put that "teacher" thing in there to show I had a (tiny) bit of cred. It's like that passport thing where you can only get a doctor or mayor or someone to sign it. They're slightly more important people.)


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