NL: Seal hunting season remains in limbo

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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The Telegram

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.”

Organizations: The Front, Humane Society International, Canadian Sealers Association Department of Fisheries and Oceans The Varsity University of Toronto IFAW International Fund for Animal Welfare

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, United States

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Recent comments

  • Astrid Kammerer-Hoefer
    March 30, 2012 - 09:29

    To The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans The Hon. Keith Ashfield cc The Right Hon. Stephen Harper cc the Members of Parliament , Canadian Senators Dear Minister, Canada tries very hard to appear in the view of us Europeans as one of the few last refuges of unspoilt nature. What a deceit: every year thousands and thousands of defenseless baby seals are slaughtered in the Gulf of St. Laurence and off N.F. The commercials seal hunt is an unnecessary and brutal massacre, unworthy of such a rich 1st world country. Even though ice conditions in the last two years endangered the harp seal population ( DFO stated that 80 per cent of the breed drowned) you set the catch quota of 2012 to a reckless 400.000 Your doing is irresponsible. Man sees himself as the “masterpiece of creation” and derives the right to interfere, exploit and destroy nature. Your doing is a crime, not only against our nature. It is also a deceit of your own citizens by ignoring the fact that, thanks to many many responsible engaged people all over the world, markets for seal products have finally collapsed. Capable politicians realize when the wind changes. The dark chapter of for some centuries lasting gory commercial seal hunt has just closed. It should be your priority task to offer alternative sustainable future businesses to your coastal inhabitants and not lull them into delusion by stock-piling seal pelts at the expense of your tax payers. Prove our humane uniqueness by accepting our responsibility to protect our nature and preserve the beauty of our planet for our descendants. Stop the commercial seal hunt. My family and I would love to see the beauties of your country and spend our holidays in Canada`s unspoilt nature. But as long as you continue this barbaric massacre we boycott your country. Sincerely Dr. Astrid Kammerer-Höfer Kandelstr. 18 79194 Gundelfingen, Germany

  • Sara Keltie
    March 30, 2012 - 04:51

    The article mentions the ban on killing whitecoats as if it is something to be significantly proud of. Given that the term only refers to infants under the age3GS 2-3 weeks (the age at which the first molt occurs and they no longer possess a perfect white coat) it is not something to brag about. The killing of three week old animals is still repugnantly cruel and ignorant, and suggests a complete lack of understanding of the basics of sustainability and ecosystem dynamics.

  • gohabs
    March 27, 2012 - 17:45

    Thankfully an end to this massacre once and for all! Great job Humane Society, Sea Shepherd, and PETA, we love you!

  • habsfan
    March 27, 2012 - 16:44

    Finally an end to this massacre of baby seals is in sight, 98% of the seal killed are under 3 months old, so shameful. I'm donating a few more bucks to HSI after reading this article so they have enough to put the final spike in the seal hunt coffin.