Ban or No Ban?

Seals clubbed and left to choke to death on their own blood - approved by Canadian Inuit

People were left scratching their heads in bewilderment today as to whether or not the EU seal product trade ban would come into effect on Friday, August 20th.  Earlier today Prime Minister Stephen Harper blasted the impending EU ban – which will prohibit trade in seal products from all nations – as being discriminatory against Canadian sealers who he described as “hardworking people of modest means.”   A few hours later Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced the EU seal product trade ban had been suspended until further notice after Inuit leaders questioned the legality of the ban.  Further confusion ensued when conflicting reports were issued by the European Commission stating the trade ban would indeed pass into law on Friday and Canadian media outlets stating the ban had been suspended at the last minute.


Brutality Against Canada’s Baby Seals – Approved by Canadian Inuit

Baby seals savagely bludgeoned to death for their fur, their carcasses left to rot - approved by Canadian Inuit

One thing, however, is no longer in doubt — the Inuit of Canada support and defend the abject cruelty of the Atlantic Canadian commercial seal hunt.  Canadian Inuit have stated in the past they stand in solidarity with eastern sealers and had launched a challenge against the EU seal product ban earlier this year.  Inuit have complained that, although the ban specifically exempts products from traditional Inuit hunts, it would devastate their economy and would prevent them from hunting seals.


Inuit Hunt – Subsistence or Commercial?

Rebecca Aldworth, Executive Director of Humane Society International/Canada questioned the logic and motives of the Inuit challenge to the EU seal product ban:

“The EU ban on seal product trade eliminates EU trade in products of inherently inhumane commercial seal hunts, but specifically exempts products from traditional Inuit hunts.

If the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is now claiming the prohibition will negatively impact their seal hunt, they are directly inferring that their hunt is conducted for commercial, rather than traditional subsistence, purposes.”

Very good points.  I’d be most interested to hear National Inuit leader and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Mary Simon’s response to this. 


Inuit Whored Out by Government for Benefit of Atlantic sealers


Seal pups herded together and bludgeoned to death with wooden bats - Approved by Canadian Inuit

In 2006 Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society reported that a few years previously Brian Roberts, senior advisor to the Canadian Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, had addressed a conference of whalers in Iceland and urged the exploitation of native people to defend commercial whaling:

In his address, Roberts outlined specific strategies that commercial whalers can use to undermine anti-whaling campaigns, drawing from the heated debates on sealing and the fur industry in Canada.

“The first step was to neutralize the appeal of the animal protection lobby,” Roberts said. “To accomplish this it was necessary to mount an equally emotionally powerful counter-appeal. This counter-appeal was based on the survival needs of aboriginal communities which depended upon the continuing taking of fur-bearing animals.”

Roberts said that this lesson would be useful to the whalers in “your own efforts to deal with a poorly informed and emotional public, and with politicians seeking electoral approval from such publics.”

In other words, Roberts speaking on behalf of the government of Canada was openly saying that Native people should be used as politically-correct and emotional arguments to win favor for commercial whaling.  


Conscious pups gaffed through the face and hurled through the air - Approved by Canadian Inuit

Interesting, no?  Wait, it gets even more interesting.  In a 2001 memo from Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs regarding maneuvoring seal products past the U.S. seal product trade ban implemented in 1972, it was recommended the Canadian government ”play the Nunavut Inuit card as leverage to open the door to obtaining a waiver and have the east coast sealers follow.”  Sneaky.

And for some strange reason, the Inuit have been more than happy to be used as pawns in the Canadian government’s defence of the inherently cruel and unprofitable slaughter.  Their eagerness to be whored out to the world for the benefit of Atlantic Canadian sealers is backfiring – they are rapidly losing the support of their fellow-Canadians.  When I first became involved in this issue, people told me they supported the Inuit subsistence hunt.   Today, however, I’m hearing a completely different story.  Many people have expressed to me their disgust with the Inuit’s alliance with the brutal Atlantic sealers and have advised they have withdrawn their support for subsistence hunting.


Delaying the Inevitable


Baby seals skinned alive - approved by Canadian Inuit

Realistically, sealing advocates have not prevented the trade ban on seal products; they have simply delayed the inevitable. 

Says HSI Canada’s Rebecca Aldworth:  “This suspension is temporary in nature and, while affording time for the applicants to present their case before the European Court of Justice, does nothing to prevent the EU ban from coming into force prior to the 2011 commercial seal hunt.“  Sheryl Fink, senior researcher with International Fund for Animal Welfare, agrees the suspension is a minor delay and confirms the EU made the right decision based on solid facts of the seal slaughter.  She also points out the European Commission voted to implement the ban in response to the wishes of its own citizens, and believes the Canadian government should show the same respect for the wishes of its citizens.  “I would hope that the Canadian government will listen to its citizens, who predominantly do not want to see a commercial seal hunt continued in this country.

Polling consistently shows the majority of Canadians are opposed to the commercial seal slaughter and object to their tax dollars being used to subsidize and defend it both at home and abroad.  Yet every year the Canadian government lavishes millions of our tax dollars upon the inherently cruel, unsustainable and unprofitable industry.  Add to that financial burden the further cost of expensive WTO and joint Inuit/Atlantic sealer challenges, and one is left once again scratching one’s head in bewilderment, wondering why on earth the government of Canada is pouring BILLIONS of dollars into an industry that is economically negligible.  A licence buyout would be markedly cheaper and a long-lasting solution, so why this stubborn determination to waste more of our taxes on a losing battle?  It’s just too bad the Canadian government didn’t see fit to lavish a fraction of that money on the homeless and poverty-stricken across Canada.  But clearly Atlantic sealers/fishers’ votes are far more important than the Great Unwashed Masses across this country.


  1. Give me a break. If these seals were covered in scales and had eyes like an alligator no one would care. This is a traditional hunt that by it’s very nature has kept hard working Newfoundlanders employed and their families fed for 100′s of years.

    The overabundance of seal’s is now having an affect on other fisheries that these seals hunt. Funny how the decline in Cod stocks and the rise in seal #’s seem to be at each end of the scales. Then when the cod stocks fell the seals moved on to other species that are now dwindling in #.

    Seals are a resource, just like fish, shell fish, plants & trees. The only difference is they have big wet doe eyes and suck you all in by the heart strings. Have you ever looked at a fully grown adult seal? No prettier than a full grown cow, I don’t see you all lining up along the highways protesting there.

    Go into the various bays and ports of Newfoundland, and look into the eyes of the children whose parents can’t buy them food or clothing, or have to decide if we fix the truck or pay the rent. I don’t see you leading that charge!!

    If you want to locate the problem to declining fish stocks and poverty in Newfoundland, then look in a mirror.

  2. Mike, you’re basing your arguments on emotional rhetoric. There is no science to support your claims seals are responsible for fish stock depletion or guilty of preventing their recovery. Furthermore, as for “look[ing] into the eyes of the children whose parents can’t buy them food or clothing”, maybe it’s yourself who should be wondering why the Canadian government is working so desperately hard to keep these people sealing and living in poverty, when a licence buyout would be beneficial to them and give them a better future.

    By the way, many fishermen and sealers here in Nova Scotia are actually in a much better financial situation than me – many live in large houses, possess multiple vehicles and can afford at least one holiday down south each year. They hire their wives as employees and lay them off once they have enough weeks to go on unemployment. They then declare bankruptcy to avoid paying their taxes. Repeatedly. So your violin-accompanied description of doe-eyed starving children is simply melodrama. Perhaps if Newfoundland and Nova Scotia fishermen didn’t insist on driving those gas-guzzling Fords and togging their children out in snowmobiles and expensive trendy snowmobile gear it wouldn’t be so expensive to fill their vehicles. Don’t forget – you’re not talking to some “outsider who doesn’t understand the issue” – you’re talking to an Atlantic Canadian who has a full understanding of the issue and what goes on behind the scenes.

    I have indeed looked at a fully grown adult seal – I see them when I visit Hay Island in Cape Breton. So they wouldn’t be the first choice for a picture postcard. So what? There are plenty of ugly people, too – does that make them less deserving of our respect and compassion?

    As for people not protesting the raising and slaughtering of cows for their flesh and their skin, I think you know better than that. If you took half a minute to look at the groups campaigning against the seal hunt you’d see most of them also campaign against cruelty to other animals, including…(shock! gasp!)…cows

    I suggest *you* look in the mirror and ask yourself why you continue so strenuously to defend animal cruelty.

  3. If you would like to see the scheme the government funded to cull hundreds of thousands of seals on Sable Island:
    As for Mike…Mike perhaps you ought to educate yourself before ranting about things you aren’t educated enough to comment on. There is scientific evidence that seals are actually of benefit to the environment and fish stocks. Unfortunately you are taking the media and governments’ propaganda as fact. I am in touch with numerous research scientists who all agree that the seals are not a problem for the fish stocks.
    The east cost fish stocks collapsed due to bad management and overfishing.
    As to seals being ugly… I am an underwater videographer and seals are as beautiful and graceful as ballet dancers underwater. I would much rather look at them than most of the obese humans that I see these days….
    Roy Mulder
    Marine Life Sanctuaries Society of B.C.
    Canadian Marine Environment Protection Society

  4. Mike…..i guess you don’t alot about the animal rights since you keep saying ooovvveerr and ooooooovvvveeeerrr, that we only care about the cute ones. Do you honestly think if these animals were ugly, that we would not defend them?? Personally I have never met anyone that truly believes this about only saving cute animals.

    Some AR activists do specialize in one to species at a time. Could be because of work schedules or they just want to zone in on only a few, so they will not be all over the place and help the ones they can.

    Now in saying that they do support banning killing of animal yes including gators, rats, mice, any other animal that is not poster perfect.

    So now why don’t you come on.. and really think about the ugly versus the pretty theory and get a new line like you think AR activists should.

    The only ugly one is the one who is doing the killing. Now *that* is ugly.


  5. It is simple to see that you are very informed about your writing. Looking forward to future posts.Thank you.

  6. we do not hunt like that! we do not tourcher the seal like those pictures, those picture are not inuks, we hunt and hope not to miss or lose the seal, we eat the whole meat and use the skin for wormth, for anybody reading this, you know if an animal attacks and kill one of your family, have the green peace people to pay your family for life.

  7. Inuit don’t fish like this. I just watched a documentary on Inuit and how the hunt. They stab them in the head and clean them quickly. There’s no bashing of the head or ANYTHING like that! they are NOT leaving them to sit around that would be a waste of food. Leaving it lying around will freeze the meat and make it a lot harder to cook. Get your facts straight. They use the meat and blubber, the fur, almost everything trying to save every last bit! Don’t accuse them of animal cruelty when you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  8. Inuk and Allison, clearly you missed the point I was making. Clearly you did not even read the title of the blog post.

    I did not say anywhere in this article that Inuit kill seals in the same manner as the east coast commercial sealers. Nor did I suggest the Inuit seal hunt is wasteful in any way. If you had taken the time to read my blog entry properly before rushing to express your indignation you would have realized this. My point was this: By standing in solidarity with east coast sealers and aligning themselves with the commercial sealing industry, Inuit are approving of the inhumane killing practices used in the commercial industry, for instance, beating pups to death and gaffing and dragging pups before they are dead or even unconscious.

    Secondly, Allison claims I don’t know what I’m talking about and need to get my facts straight. Allison, I can assure you I’ve researched the east coast commercial seal hunt for many years and myself have documented the annual killing both in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. You have watched ONE documentary about the Inuit hunt. What is your knowledge and experience with the commercial seal hunt?

    The east coast commercial seal hunt and the Inuit subsistence hunt are two separate hunts. The Coalition does not campaign against the Inuit seal hunt. We oppose the east coast commercial seal hunt which has been proven inherently inhumane, wasteful and a drain on Canadian taxpayers.

    As for Inuit methods of killing, in some areas seals are drowned in nets, a practice condemned by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association as well as EFSA, a body commissioned by the European Commission to conduct a study into the killing of seals in various countries. Both groups state drowning in nets or traps is a protracted and painful death for seals.

    I suggest you re-read my blog entry to get a better understanding of the points I was making.

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