Chalk another marine ecological Disaster-in-Progress up to Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, currently run by Minister Gail Shea.
Yesterday a proposal to ban trade in Endangered bluefin tuna was voted down. Guess how Canada voted? Canada voted against a trade ban. Why? Because PEI fishermen told the Minister a ban wasn’t necessary. Experts advise that bluefin tuna numbers have declined by as much as 82% since the 1930s due to over-fishing and if fishing of this species continues, it will become extinct. But hey, who needs all that pesky science when greedy fishermen from PEI say we don’t need a trade ban on this Endangered species? DFO certainly doesn’t let science stand in the way of helping Atlantic Canadian fishermen drive species to extinction, so why should we pay it any mind? Commercial fishers aren’t the only ones wanting to decimate the bluefin tuna population. Halifax is home to the Nova Scotia International Tuna Tournament when “international
boaters rednecks gather in Halifax in a competition to catch the largest tuna.” All proceeds from the sale of the dead tuna goes to IWK Health Centre, a local hospital for women and children. Isn’t that a lesson to teach the kids – it’s okay to kill endangered species as long as you’re having fun…
But the Canadian government didn’t stop there. Our government also wants to drive polar bears to extinction, and voted down the proposal for a trade ban on polar bear body parts. Why? Because Inuit claim to rely on the revenue they derive from delivering up polar bears (which have been listed as Endangered since 1975) to rich Americans to shoot for sport.
These two species join a long list of species sacrificed by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans in the name of economics and political expediency. They join sockeye salmon in Sakinaw Lake (“In January 2005, a final decision was made by the Government of Canada to not list Sakinaw Lake sockeye salmon under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), due to the significant socio-economic impacts on sockeye fishers and coastal communities.“); and Prince Rupert salmon; and stellar sea lion (“Although the Steller sea lion has suffered from many years of being hunted, since 1970 it has been protected in Canada under the federal Fisheries Act which prohibits commercial hunting of the steller sea lion. There have been instances where permits have been granted for the killing of the Steller sea lion, in an attempt to protect fish farms being preyed upon by the animals.“)and Atlantic cod which has been fished to commercial extinction…
And then there is the porbeagle shark, which was designated as Endangered by the Committee on Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. The Committee recommended to DFO that porbeagle be listed as Endangered on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. In 2006 the Canadian government decided not to list porbeagle due to the economic impact of such a listing on the commercial fishing industry (“…porbeagle shark is not being added to Schedule 1, because…listing the porbeagle would eliminate the directed porbeagle fishery and also prohibit the sale and trade of porbeagle shark that is by-caught in other fisheries. This would result in economic losses for some fishers and associated industries in coastal communities and the loss of industry-based sources of information on the species.“). Again, economics trumped conservation. Those are just a few examples. DFO has a long history of sacrificing conservation in the name of economics and political expediency.
To add insult to injury, our Fisheries Minister is dancing on the grave of bluefin tuna, applauding the decision and claiming “responsible management practices of Canada’s bluefin fishery helped swing the vote.”
Responsible management practices? One need only look at how DFO mismanaged our cod stocks into commercial extinction to see through yet one more of Gail Shea’s lies.
Neil LeClair, P.E.I.’s fisheries minister was quoted as saying “We never thought there should have been a ban and the way we fish our tuna here and our conservation measures and the way the fishermen themselves look after the stock, there really was no indication that there should be a ban whatsoever.“
Hmmm, maybe Minister LeClair doesn’t realize that bluefin tuna are highly migratory. There is no “our” tuna. This means that once “our” tuna leave “our” waters (if they manage to make it out alive, that is, with all those greedy PEI fishermen gunning for them), they will be fished to extinction elsewhere. Maybe Minister LeClair should give the implications of this further thought. But then, he’s not being paid to think – he’s being paid to do what the fishermen tell him to do. This is, after all, Atlantic Canada. It’s part of our heritage and culture for our politicans to pander to the fishing and sealing lobbies and thumb their noses at the rest of us.
Canada found allies for its anti-bluefin tuna ban in Japan and China. Japan is infamous for illegally slaughtering whales in the antarctic, rounding up and slaughtering dolphins in coves, and cutting fins off sharks before throwing them back in the water to drown. And China…well, China skins cats and dogs alive for their fur and flesh. Gail Shea recently traveled to China on a sealskin-shilling mission. The Canadian government said China has a very good potential as a market, referring to the fact that the Chinese aren’t troubled by animal welfare, will eat anything and protests are not allowed by government. Are these really the types of countries with which Canada wants to align in matters of animal welfare and conservation? I think not.
Gail Shea proves time and time again that she is a menace to our oceans. She must be removed from her position immediately. I received a very timely email this morning with a link to an online petition calling for Gail Shea’s resignation. I signed it with gusto and encourage you to do the same. Be sure to leave a personal message as this always gives your signature more impact.