Dingwall sealer Robert Courtney chasing terrified seal pups with rifle on provincial nature reserve Hay Island, 2011 Photo: R. Aldworth/HSI Canada

The Humane Society of the United States recently unveiled a new iPhone app that enables users to locate restaurants and food suppliers who boycott Canadian seafood products until such time as the commercial seal hunt is ended by the Canadian government.  John Grandy, Ph.D., senior vice president of wildlife for The HSUS, said “With the launch of this new iPhone app, consumers have a quick and easy way to bring their economic power to bear against this annual slaughter.”

Reaction to the new app was swift.  A spokesperson for Canadian Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield dismissed the app as simply a “recycled campaign of  ‘old tricks’ and ‘misinformation.’” and then proceeded to dish out liberal amounts of misinformation, herself.

Perhaps the most bizarre reaction was from Nova Scotia sealer Robert Courtney, who complained the Canadian seafood boycott was unfair in that it targeted fishermen not connected to the sealing industry.  “There’s some seafood producers in Canada that don’t do anything with the seal hunt, don’t have any connections with the seal hunt, so why would they be boycotting those people?  That alone tells about (their) credibility.”

Dingwall sealer Robert Courtney shooting terrified seal pups inches from each other on Hay Island, 2011 Photo: R. Aldworth/HSI Canada

If Robert Courtney wants to blame someone for the Canadian seafood boycott, the finger of blame can be pointed directly at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  A DFO official inspired the boycott when he stated the Canadian government would consider ending the commercial seal hunt if fishermen asked it to do so.

Sealers are primarily fishermen who fish other species at other times of the year and who kill seals as an off-season activity for extra pocket money.   If fishermen believe they are being unfairly penalized for the actions of a small number of their members, they should speak up and demand the Canadian government bans the cruel and unprofitable seal hunt which taints the entire fishing industry and, indeed, the entire country.

Courtney also claimed that although anti-sealing campaigns have reduced world markets for seal products seal population must still be controlled, regardless of whether or not there is a market for them. “Sealers would prefer to be able to go harvest a seal and fully utilize the animal and we’ve put a lot of man hours and a lot of effort into doing that,” he said, noting they’ve done everything “possible to have a sustainable, humane harvest.”

Robert Courtney is guilty of misleading the public when he refers to the commercial seal hunt as “sustainable” and “humane.”  Having researched this issue for years and having personally witnessed the annual killing, I can assure readers it is neither of those things.

The ProtectSeals Canadian Seafood Boycott app can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store by searching for “protect seals.”

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