***WARNING: SOME MAY BE OFFENDED***
It is that time of year again when there is an uproar about the killing of the overpopulated Harp seals living off the coast of Newfoundland. It's quite amazing how some people will look at pictures of a dead animal, and without learning the facts of the hunt (not the slaughter) create such an uninformed cry to put an end to it. Shamefully, I was one of those ignorant people who would take one look at a picture of a dead baby Harp seal, and cried out that this was an injustice. But I was made aware by more informed people about what is going on.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm about as big a treehugger as any other. Don't ever get me started on why whales should not be hunted.
The killing of baby Harps in Newfoundland, and ALL of Canada is ILLEGAL. The humane killing of adult Harp seals IS legal.
There are 517,900 people living in Newfoundland, and 4,700,000 Harp seals frequent the Newfoundland coastal waters, consuming 88,000 pounds of cod, which isn't even their preferred fish.
The killing of baby seals is just as illegal as the killing of whales in Canadian waters, and I am against BABY seals being killed, but the seal hunt must continue. There are too many seals, and if we do not control their numbers the whole ecosystem will be ruined, as the idiot government fools allowed other countries to fish our waters, depleting the numbers of fish. It is much like hunting deer in the Northern States, and in Canada. It is a necessity, because, as humans, we have already ruined their habitat, and to let them overpopulate what is left, will ruin it.
If we do not kill these animals (with all parts used, no doubt. From what I hear, you aren't a Newfoundlander, unless you've eaten a seal flipper pie ;)) they will overpopulate the waters, eating all of the fish, and starve themselves to death.
For the record, I have seen two adolescent Harp seals up close, and personal, in a tank on a little island off the Quebec coast, Les Iles de la Madeleine. They are a bit... scary looking, to say the least. And from what I was told (in French, mind you) these creatures, when fully grown are actually quite dangerous. I, as a tourist, bought a necklace with a seal claw (hell yes, they have claws, what did you think they were, fish?) on it, and trust me when I say it's quite sharp. Did you know that female Harp seals do not lose their white fur until the age of twelve? It’s the age of seven for males. They only live 35 years, so I’m pretty sure it is safe to say that a 12 year old seal is not a pup.
No matter what I say, even if I start complaining about how we depleted the whale populations to a mere percent of what is used to be, therefore leaving the Harp seal with no truly visible enemy (transient orcas) other than ourselves, I can not even remotely begin to explain things the way a true Newfoundlander might be able to.
So instead, I shall get off my soap box, and give to you the words of a man who grew up with the seal hunt, unlike the rest of us. This was written in 2006 during the season the seal hunt took place, and Paul McCartney and his wife helped PETA, and the American SPCA to try and put a stop to the hunt of an overpopulated species.
March 2, 2006
Tour Diary St. John's, NL
Paul McCartney was in St. John's yesterday. Cool, eh? I bet he was in town to check out the cool musical historical connections between this worldly sea port and his own home town of Liverpool in England. Or maybe he was here to show support for struggling coastal communities near flattened by the globalization of the fishing industry.
No. Paul and his wife, Ms. Mills-McCartney were just stopping over on their way to PEI from where they will fly over the ice in search of an opportunity to hug a cute baby seal and mug for photographers. Much ado has been made in the media today about the arguments for and against the seal hunt. Many marine biologists and educated members of the fishing industry have duked, and will continue to duke, it out with members of environmental and animal rights groups that range from practical and sensible to fanatical and downright criminal. These people are much more qualified for the finer points of these debates than I, and I suspect most of us.
My opinion, I suspect, is shared by many. I think killing seals is cruel and ugly work. I think killing rabbits, moose, cows, chickens, and anything else with a pulse, is cruel and ugly work. I have never done it.
I, like many, accept that there are circumstances on Planet Earth where choosing to be a vegetarian is not an option. If you live, or certainly if you lived a few decades ago, in a coastal community in Newfoundland and Labrador, during the winter months, you'd have hard time finding an avocado salad.
I, like most, also accept that in this day and age animals are hunted and farmed for food, clothes, medicine, and a variety of commercial reasons. I, like most, expect that these industries be closely regulated and scrutinized and act in a humane and environmentally responsible fashion. Simply put, I don't want animals to suffer inhumane lives or deaths, and I don't want commercial hunting or fishing to result in the endangerment or extinction of a species.
From what I understand from respected individuals in the beef industry, the vast majority of cattle farmers act in a humane and responsible fashion and no one dares suggest anything else. Oprah was almost crucified in the US for questioning the American beef industry.
From what I understand from respected individuals in the sealing industry, the vast majority of sealers act in a humane and responsible fashion. Yet Paul McCartney is not one bit shy about throwing his considerable weight behind a campaign to have the Prime Minister put an end to the seal hunt. Moreover, he seems perfectly willing to pose for a propaganda photo with a baby seal on behalf of the Humane society of the United States no doubt aiding the organizations fundraising efforts for a long time.
Now I've got nothing against the Humane Society and I don't wish to make the lives of the inhumane easier by casting doubts towards on the Humane Society's efforts. But this photo-op will be misleading to the public and unfair to the humane and responsible sealers in small struggling communities everywhere as there has not been a cute and cuddly baby seal hunt in a long long time. Older harp seals are what the sealers are after but I'll bet these much uglier dudes won't make the final photo.
But Paul is a smart, worldly man who is well versed in Newfoundland and Labrador history and economics, right? I am sure Mr. McCartney has considered all the above before he agreed to this photo opportunity today, right? If so, lets call this what it is. Mr. McCartney has thought it through and chosen seals over sealers, regardless of whether these sealers are humane and responsible. He is voting for fundraising for the Humane Society over the continued existence of Coastal Communities of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Well, Mr. and Ms. McCartney, enjoy your trip to Atlantic Canada. If your efforts today are really successful, there may be a few less towns to see next time you stop by.
Great Big Sea
What else am I supposed to say? I know at least one friend will not support my view at all and that is fine. Her idea is to stop the slaughter of all animals, and I have a different view. Sure, we’re sort of on the same page. We both want to help save the animals… but I have chosen a road less traveled when believing in animal rights. I choose to only help those in dire need. Those who are in peril of becoming extinct.
I am not a vegetarian. I am of the belief that we, as omnivores, need to eat meat. Our incisors are proof that we were made to eat meat. Those teeth are made for ripping into flesh, not fauna. Bears are omnivores. They eat vegetables and meat. I don’t see them becoming vegetarians.
I understand the morals that go into becoming a vegetarian. Honestly, I do. I don’t agree with them, but I understand them, and respect them.
However, I do not appreciate vegetarians pulling a “Catholic” move. Yes, I said it. A Catholic move. “My religion is right, and yours is wrong so you’re going to hell. I understand not all Catholics feel this way, but most (especially the leaders of this religion) do. But that is neither here nor there. What I’m trying to get at is that some vegetarians will start “spreading the word” about veganism and why it is “wrong” to eat meat. I don’t appreciate it, just like I don’t appreciate being told I’m going to hell, or that my opinion doesn’t matter because I’m just a little girl.
And the thing that gets me the most about the arguments on the seal hunt is that these people are claiming that we’re doing it only for the fur! I agree that it’s a major reason as to why the seal hunt goes on, but it is not the only reason! Think of these: overpopulation, meat, under-population of fish stocks, fishermen who have no other option for income.
And trying to make the seal hunt illegal because of those poor white-coats? Sigh… poaching will continue whether the adults are legal to kill or not.
Don't get me wrong, please. I generally hate humans. We killed whales for nothing but the oil, and fat, and left the rest of the carcass to rot in the sand. We killed whales so that one species that was bountiful, and swam in the oceans in great numbers has been reduced to a measly 400 Northern Right Whales.
I ask you, why use your energy to help save a species that has over four million numbers alone? Why not try and make a difference with a species that's actually on the brink of extinction?