Not only is there no opening set for the seal hunt at The Front, but according to a spokesman for the sealers there hasn’t been a meeting yet to discuss possible dates.
Seals are seen on the ice off Newfoundland and Labrador in this file photo. While the seal population has reached an estimated eight million animals and the quota for the 2012 hunt is 400,000, the number of seals killed in the hunt this year is unlikely to reach 100,000. — Transcontinental Media file photo
[ST. JOHN'S, NL] — Not only is there no opening set for the seal hunt at The Front, but according to a spokesman for the sealers there hasn’t been a meeting yet to discuss possible dates.
Frank Pinhorn, executive director of the Canadian Sealers Association, said the opening of the main hunting grounds, just off Newfoundland and Labrador, is usually set by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans after the announcement of the year’s quota which was set at 400,000 a few weeks ago.
As of Monday, Pinhorn said there had been no consultation with his organization.
He said the opening would normally be set somewhere around April 8-11. “I expect to hear this week, but again I’m not sure. It’s left in limbo.”
The veteran sealer said while the quota has been set, it is not yet clear who might buy the seals.
“We have no commitment from the industry — if they’re going to buy and, if they’re buying, what the price might be,” he told The Telegram.
While the logistics of this year’s hunt may be in limbo, the one constant is the presence of the anti-hunt campaigns.
A commentary piece, “Dismantling the seal hunt,” was published online Sunday by The Varsity student newspaper at the University of Toronto. In the piece, writer Simon Capobianco states the seal hunt debate is “long on emotion and short on facts.”
He goes on to call the hunt “immoral” and “a drain on the economy.”
The piece runs under a photograph of a white-coated baby seal, though Canada banned hunting of whitecoats in 1987.
On the decidedly anti-hunt website for Humane Society International (HSI) in the United States, an image of a seal about to be killed by a sealer is accompanied by the text: “Help us stop this. Baby seals need your help now.”
HSI has successfully developed their anti-hunt efforts over the decades. A Facebook posting Friday calling for “emergency donation” for their 2012 anti-sealing campaign had 646 “shares” as of mid-day Monday.
The posting noted the early opening of the smaller hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence was moved ahead by a matter of a few days.
Leaders with the Canadian arm of the organization are unapologetic when it comes to the aggressive stance against the faltering sealing industry.
“We believe a constructive solution can be found to end the commercial seal slaughter in Canada, and doing so in the near term is a major priority for us,” read a statement offered to The Telegram. To that end, the group promotes a federal buyout for sealers.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) mainpage also features an anti-sealing campaign, an extension of that organization’s efforts year after year.
The IFAW has called the 2012 Canadian harp seal quota “indefensible.”