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* Activists demand Taiwan end seal oil imports

* Inuit to appeal EU ruling

* Canadian seal hunters lose bid to lift EU import ban

* Canadian Fisheries Min. Clyde Jackman fights EU ban

* PM Harper slams EU for proceding with ban

* EU Court suspends ban on seal imports

* Canada welcomes EU Court stay on seal ban

* Pam Anderson asks Putin to ban seal imports

* Sealers call for bigger seal 'cull'

* N.S. Premier: No concerns over grey seal cull

* Sable Island to become National Park

* Questions on rise of seal pelt prices

* Poll of Newfoundland sealers

* Less symbolism, more realism please

* Canadian parliament to serve seal meat

* Nunavut politician urges retaliatory ban on EU alcohol

* Economics of ending seal hunt



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Seal Hunt 2010 - Political Actions for and Against the Slaughter


Animal rights campaigners call for gov't ban on seal oil

Saturday, December 4, 2010
The China Post news staff
The China Post

Animal rights activists yesterday demanded the government ban the import and sale of seal oil in Taiwan to protect the marine mammal.

Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of the Canada chapter of Humane Society International, noted at a press conference in Taipei that the United States, European Union, Mexico and Croatia have all banned imports of seal oil.

With Canada's annual seal hunt set to kick off in four months, Taiwan would contribute to stopping the slaughter by imposing a similar ban, Aldworth said.

A boycott campaign launched in April by the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) has already managed to have seal and sea lion products removed from the shelves of major retail chains.

But these products are still available from online retailers, the activists said.

According to EAST, Taiwan is the fourth-largest market for Canadian seal products. From 2003 to 2009, it imported over 431,000 kilograms of seal oil, which required the killing of 120,000 seals.

An official from Taiwan's Council of Agriculture (COA) was cited by the Central News Agency as saying that an EAST-backed petition calling for the ban on seal oil has collected signatures of 160,000 people.

The official said the COA, after receiving the petition, will consider the proposal and notify the Bureau of Foreign Trade of any decision made.


Inuit to appeal EU seals ruling

Oct. 29, 2010

OTTAWA — Canadian Inuit and sealers will appeal a European court's refusal to suspend a ban on the import of seal products in Europe, they said Friday.

The European Parliament endorsed the ban last year after a public outcry over Canada's annual commercial seal hunt, which animal rights activists denounce as cruel.

The decision angered Canada and prompted a legal challenge by Inuit groups from Canada and Greenland.

On Friday, Canada's national Inuit organization -- Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) -- and the Fur Institute of Canada said they "plan to appeal the EU court decision."

"I am disappointed and angered that the suspension of the ban has been lifted," ITK president Mary Simon said in a statement.

"We view this as a minor setback," she added. "We plan to appeal the ruling as we believe the original seal ban was based on colonial perceptions of our sealing practices, and this week's ruling is a perfect illustration of this."

Simon called the ban "a great injustice" and said European parliamentarians' support for it showed they "continue to be blinded by a combination of old, discredited colonialist attitudes and a cynical disinformation campaign from animal rights activists."

The European ban includes an exemption for seal products derived from hunts traditionally conducted by Inuit and indigenous communities for subsistence, dealing a blow to hunters and fur traders.

Despite the exemption, Inuit insist the move adversely affects them because it shrinks the market for the product. They also fear the exemption would not always be respected.

The ban took partial effect on August 20 with a temporary exemption for ITK and 15 other plaintiffs who sought a freeze until Europe's top court makes a final ruling.

The judge rejected their request, making it a total ban until the European Court of Justice decides on the legality of the prohibition.

Copyright © 2010 AFP



Canadian seal hunters lose bid to lift EU import ban

harp seal pup
A harp seal pup. (c) AFP

By Laurent Thomet (AFP) – 14 hours ago

BRUSSELS — A European judge has refused to suspend a ban on the import of seal products in Europe, dealing a blow to Canada's Inuit hunters and fur traders, according to a ruling released on Thursday.

The European Union's decision to ban such imports angered Canada and prompted a legal challenge by Inuit groups from Canada and Greenland.

This new ruling by the European Court of Justice further "disappointed" both Canadian sealers and Ottawa.

Judge Marc Jaeger rejected an argument made by the Inuits that the embargo on seal products would cause severe financial damage and raise the risk of suicide among youths in their communities.

The ban took effect partially on August 20 with a temporary exemption for Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), a native Canadian group, and 15 other plaintiffs who sought a freeze until Europe's top court makes a final ruling.

sealer strikes seal
A sealer strikes a seal pup. (c) IFAW 2010

But Jaeger rejected the request, making it a total ban until the European Court of Justice decides on the legality of the prohibition.

The European ban includes an exemption for seal products derived from hunts traditionally conducted by Inuit and indigenous communities for subsistence.

Despite the exemption, Inuits insist that they are nevertheless affected because it shrinks the market for the product. They also fear that the exemption would not always be respected.

Jaeger was not swayed.

"The plaintiffs presented no concrete indication that would justify their fears in this regard," the judge wrote in his October 25 decision issued in French. His decision can be appealed.

In Brussels, the European Commission said the legislation will now apply "to all, fully and without restriction."

The EU executive said the plaintiffs' case was "misguided and clearly inadmissible."

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Jan Bouckaert, told AFP he was examining the ruling and had not decided whether to appeal it.

"I can only regret this order," he said. "All I can say is that the battle continues."

Canada is pursuing the issue through the World Trade Organization and "we hope to get resolution through that medium... because we feel that the European Union is in violation of international trade laws," Canadian Fisheries Minister Gail Shea told reporters.

The second round of WTO negotiations are expected to start in November.

"I'd like to express my disappointment with the ruling of the European Court of Justice," Shea added.

The European Parliament endorsed the ban last year after public outcry over Canada's annual commercial seal hunt, which animal rights activists denounce as cruel.

"We are pleased that the court has made the right decision and lifted the suspension," said Lesley O'Donnell, EU director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

"This ban is about the right of Europeans to say 'No' to products that stem from cruel and unnecessary hunts," O'Donnell said in an interview.

Native groups, hunters and fur companies from Canada, Greenland and Norway are among 16 plaintiffs contesting the European regulation, saying it is unfair and discriminatory.

Norway has also asked for consultations at the World Trade Organisation in an effort to resolve the dispute.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has described the ban as "completely unfair" and "flagrant discrimination" against Canadian sealers who have been following established rules of animal husbandry.

ITK president Mary Simon has called the ban "illegal and immoral" and urged European lawmakers to withdraw it.

Canada's 6,000 sealers make 10 million Canadian dollars from the hunt, with a quarter of it from exports to Europe, according to the Canadian government.

Some 5.6 million Greenland seals were in Canadian waters in 2009 compared to two million in the early 1970s.

Fur Institute of Canada sealing network coordinator David Barry said Thursday: "The ban itself is discriminatory and unjust, and it does absolute nothing to address the issues of marine conservation or animal welfare."

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.



Jackman bending ears on seal hunt in Europe

Clyde Jackman
Clyde Jackman

The Telegram
Published on October 14th, 2010

Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman said today that he’s been making the case for the seal hunt in Hungary and Belgium recently, as part of an effort to combat a European Union ban on seal products.

In a news release, Jackman said he met with senior government officials and non-governmental groups to discuss the merits of the seal hunt.

“It is very important to our provincial sealing industry that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador make our views known to the international community and gather information on the status of the temporarily suspended EU ban,” Jackman said. “The trade ban is completely unfair and not based on scientific evidence or sound conservation practices. A ban such as this is clearly in violation of international trade agreements.”

This is the fifth year of a PR strategy on the seal hunt, and the government has spent about $500,000 promoting the industry.

Provincial government officials also attended the International Trade Fair for Fur and Fur Processing at the end of September. The province has given $100,000 to the group for promoting seal products around the globe.



PM slams EU over seal ban go-ahead

Industry being targeted based on 'complete misinformation,' Harper says

Last Updated: Friday, August 20, 2010 | 5:06 PM CST
CBC News

Stephen Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says an EU ban on seal products is completely unfair. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is slamming the European Union's decision to proceed with a ban on seal products despite a court ruling ordering that the policy be suspended while legal challenges to it are heard.

Speaking in Charlottetown on Friday, the prime minister urged the EU to respect its own court's injunction, saying the ban is "completely unfair and a discriminatory treatment" of a Canadian industry that employs people of modest means.

Seal industry workers, Harper said, are being "targeted by environmental extremists based on complete misinformation."

The Canadian government will continue to defend the sealers' interests because they respect the "same kind of humanitarian considerations" that are present in other areas of animal husbandry, Harper said.

"They should not be targetted like this, and the government of Canada will continue to speak out in their defence," said the prime minister.

Madrid protest against seal hunt

Animal rights activists protest against Canada's seal hunt in front of the Canadian embassy in Madrid in April. (Andrea Comas/Reuters)

According to media reports, the EU ban went into effect on Friday, but seal products sold by groups that have already filed court actions appealing the ban are exempt from it. Those groups include the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents Canada's 53,000 Inuit, and Greenland's Inuit.

The EU's General Court, based in Luxembourg, agreed on Thursday to impose a delay on the ban in order to properly consider the legal challenges, saying the delay was in the "interest of the proper administration of justice."

The EU ban already exempted trade in seal products that come from aboriginal groups, but Mary Simon, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said the Inuit fear their sales will still plummet when the ban comes into effect.

Last November, Canada made an official complaint to the World Trade Organization about the European ban, arguing it was a violation of the EU's trade obligations. Norway joined that complaint.

Canada exported about $5.5 million worth of seal products to the EU in 2006, when the price of pelts peaked at over $100, but the market has been cut in half in recent years, with about $2.5 million in seal products sent to the region in 2008.

While there are about 6,000 licensed seal hunters on the East Coast, only a few hundred took part in last season's hunt. About 67,000 seals were hunted — most of them harp seals off Newfoundland — even though the catch limit was about 350,000.

The Newfoundland government says the industry brought about $24 million into the provincial economy in 2008.

With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press



Canadian Seal Hunters Win Court-Ordered Reprieve From European Union Ban

By James G. Neuger - Aug 20, 2010 7:00 AM CT

Sixteen seal meat and pelt traders, most of them from Canada, won a temporary reprieve from a European Union import ban that took effect today after an EU court issued a last-minute injunction.

In a victory for the seal trappers and slaughterers that filed a legal challenge, the EU’s General Court exempted them from the ban at least until it hears arguments in the case next month.

Hailed as landmark legislation by animal rights activists when it was passed last year, the ban will “very temporarily” not cover the Canadian hunters, EU spokeswoman Amelia Torres told reporters in Brussels today.

Canada, Greenland and Namibia account for 60 percent of the 900,000 seals killed in commercial hunts annually, according to EU data. Norway and Russia are the next biggest seal-trapping countries.

Seals are “sentient beings that can experience pain, distress, fear and other forms of suffering,” reads the EU law, passed by 550 to 49 in the European Parliament in May 2009.

Calling seal harvesting a “way of life,” the Canadian fisheries ministry says a “healthy and abundant” population of 6.9 million harp seals in the north Atlantic Ocean isn’t threatened by commercial hunters.

In March, the ministry increased the 2010 quota for the harp seal harvest by 18 percent to 330,000. It left quotas unchanged at 50,000 for gray seals and 8,200 for hooded seals.

Inuit Eskimoes

The injunction from the Luxembourg-based EU court was disclosed yesterday by a group representing Canada’s Inuit Eskimoes, who opposed the ban even though their subsistence hunting was exempted.

The European animal-rights measure is “totally unjustified,” Mary Simon, head of Canada’s national Inuit organization, said in a statement on the group’s website.

The temporary reprieve covers only the people and organizations behind the court case, including the Canadian Seal Marketing Group, Torres said. She didn’t say how much of the seal trade they represent.

The court set a Sept. 7 deadline for the EU to respond to the injunction. The court will then decide whether to extend the reprieve for the duration of the case.

To contact the reporter on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at jneuger@bloomberg.net



Canada welcomes court suspension of EU seal ban

Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:31pm EDT

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A European court has ordered the suspension of a EU import ban on seal products that was set to begin on Friday, according to a copy of the ruling provided by a Canadian Inuit group.

The ruling made by the European Court of Justice on Thursday raises the stakes in a European Union trade dispute with Canada even as the two sides pursue wide-ranging free trade talks.

The court decision came in response to a request by the Canadian Inuit group for an injunction against the EU ban, which arose over concerns of brutality in the seal hunt.

"The operation of the conditions restricting the placing on the market of seal products ... is suspended," said the ruling, signed in Luxembourg.

It was not immediately clear how long the ban might be put on hold. Canada's Inuit leader Mary Simon said she hoped the decision would push the EU into scrapping its plans.

"I would hope that the European Parliament would see fit at this stage to do the right thing and withdraw its legislation," said Mary Simon, president of the group representing Canada's Inuit people.

Even though the ban exempts products from the traditional Inuit seal hunt, Inuit groups in Canada's vast Arctic region say the measure cuts prices and hurts their economy.

Canada's main seal hunt takes place in March and April on ice floes off the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The seals are usually shot or bludgeoned over the head with a spiked club called a hakapik.

Seal products include fur for clothing and oil that is used in vitamin supplements.

The spat comes as Ottawa is pushing for closer economic ties with the EU, promising to finalize a free trade pact by next year that it says could rake in an extra 8 billion euros ($7.4 billion) for Canada within seven years. The next round of talks is in October.

In a related development, officials said on Thursday that Ottawa has asked the World Trade Organization to establish a dispute settlement panel in hopes of overturning the seal ban.

Canada argues that the EU action is misinformed and violates European WTO trade commitments. Ottawa says it is defending Atlantic communities that rely on the seal trade for survival.

The EU promised to defend its decision, which it said does not discriminate against Canada as it prohibits seal from other countries as well.

(Additional reporting by Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck in Geneva; editing by Janet Guttsman and Peter Galloway)



Pamela Anderson asks Russia's Putin to ban imports of Canadian baby seal fur

June 3, 2010

whitecoat harp seal pup
Pamela Anderson asks Russia's Putin to ban imports of Canadian baby seal fur . Photo by Olga Gershenzon

Former Playboy bunny and Baywatch star Pamela Anderson once again pleaded to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to stop imports of seal pup fur from Canada, GZT.ru news portal reported on Thursday.

In her letter on June 2, Anderson, a spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organization, urged the former Russian president to ban imports of Canadian baby seal fur and leather, as Russia remains one of the few consuming countries of these products, while the United States, Mexico and the European Union banned this practice.

Pamela Anderson
Pamela Anderson asks Russia's Putin to ban imports of Canadian baby seal fur . Photo by Olga Gershenzon

"My friends at PETA and I were pleased to see a recent slideshow spotlighting your fondness for animals. Since you've already banned the slaughter of baby seals in Russia, I'm writing to ask that you also ban seal-pelt imports from my native Canada, where almost all seals who are killed are 3 months of age or younger," Anderson wrote to Putin.

The 42-year-old Hollywood celebrity wrote a similar letter to the Russian premier in April last year, but it remained unanswered.

In February 2009, Putin called hunting baby harp seals "a bloody industry" and ordered the country's Natural Resources Ministry to ban hunting baby harp seals up to one year old.

Commercial seal hunting is conducted in Namibia, Greenland, Finland and Sweden, while Canada remains home to the world's largest annual commercial seal hunt.

MOSCOW, June 3 (RIA Novosti)



Cull seals to help cod: fishermen

Earle McCurdy FFAW
Earle McCurdy, president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union, says seals are threatening eastern Canadian cod stocks. (CBC)

Last Updated: Friday, June 4, 2010 | 7:43 AM NT

Fishermen say the seal population in eastern Canada should be culled to help fish stocks rebound.

The head of the Fish Food and Allied Workers union, that represents fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador, says the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is ignoring the root cause of cod stock decline.

FFAW president Earle McCurdy said Thursday that the federal fisheries department should be controlling seals, not cutting cod quotas in the Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

DFO has cut this year's Northern Gulf cod quota by more than 40 per cent from 7,000 tonnes to 4,000 tonnes.

McCurdy said quota cuts punish harvesters without dealing with the real problem.

He says seals eat more fish than fishermen catch and the government should come up with a aggressive program to reduce grey seals.

McCurdy says DFO scientists have already linked grey seals to fish stock declines in the southern gulf.



No concerns over seal cull: Dexter

Published: May 28, 2010 12:05 a.m.
Last modified: May 28, 2010 12:08 a.m.

Premier Darrell Dexter said the province would not stand in the federal government’s way should it decide to hold a seal cull on Sable Island.

Darrell Dexter - NS Premier
Premier Darrell Dexter, shown in this file photo, says the province will not intervene to stop a seal cull on Sable Island. Ryan Taplin/Metro Halifax, 2010

Dexter told reporters Thursday it’s the federal government’s jurisdiction to decide if a seal cull is required on Canada’s newest national park.

“Our position is that it’s the federal government’s responsibility and they’re free to make their decision in the manner that they choose,” Dexter said. “I don’t have any concerns with it, no.”

A report commissioned by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans last August examined the viability of a cull on Sable Island as a method of controlling a seal population that has grown to 300,000 from 20,000 since the 1970s.

The Coast newspaper obtained a copy of the report and published the — at times — gruesome logistics of such a cull. In order to kill and dispose of 220,000 seals over five years, the report recommends the transportation of modified wood chippers and portable crematoriums to the isolated island located about 300 kilometres south of Nova Scotia.

DFO spokesman Gus van Hervoort said culls are not uncommon in national parks when population exceeds a sustainable level. But he acknowledged Sable Island’s fragile ecosystem makes it a unique case.

“It certainly is ... a sensitive environment, it’s a sensitive ecosystem there,” said van Hervoort. “But the fact is that, 20 years ago there were only several thousand seals there and here we are 20 years later and there’s 300,000 seals there. So that’s having an effect as well.”

According to van Hervoort, DFO is still considering methods for controlling the seal population, including a cull. Any decision on the matter, however, is still a ways away.

“The decision ultimately will be a multi-departmental decision between Parks Canada and DFO ... but we’re some time away from that,” van Hervoort said.



Sable Island poised to become national park

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | 8:44 PM AT
CBC News

Sable Island
Sable Island (c) CBC

Sable Island in Nova Scotia may soon be named a national park, ensuring the protection of its fragile ecology, the federal government announced Tuesday.

Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice said the process to make the ecologically sensitive spit of land in the North Atlantic a national park will begin next month with public consultations.

The island, about 300 kilometres southeast of Nova Scotia, is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, because it is ringed by 300 years of ship wrecks. At least 223 ships are known to have wrecked off the island.

Sable Island is also home to about 400 wild horses, descendants of animals brought to the island during the late 1700s.

The island is also a breeding ground for seals and birds, including the endangered Ipswich sparrow.

It is a fragile habitat, and Prentice said making the 40-kilometre strip of sand dunes a national park will give it the protection it needs.

"By having Sable Island designated as a national park, we have the greatest protection possible," he said in Ottawa.

"The way in which the park is managed will be the subject of consultation as we develop the management plan. We'll be working very closely with Nova Scotia, and with other Canadians as well, to develop those plans to make sure that this ecological treasure is protected according to the highest possible standard."

Discussions will begin next month with advocacy groups that want to help shape the rules for managing Canada's newest national park.

Mark Butler, of the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, supports making the island a national park.

"Making it a national park is the best choice. It brings the resources and experience of Parks Canada to managing the island. Of course, what is crucial is the management plan and the limitations we put on activities on the island," he said.

Butler said the number of visitors to the island must be restricted.

"We really do have to limit the number of people who visit the island, and the infrastructure that is going to accommodate them. Obviously, no wharves, no airport and no five-star hotels," he said.

Chris Miller, of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, agreed visitors should be limited.

"You can put limits on the numbers of visitors that actually visit the island, and put strict conditions on where they can go when they're there. We would certainly like to see the strongest possible management framework put in place to protect the island and that includes limiting visitation," he said.

Blogger Parker Donham, a former journalist, said he will be at the public consultations to voice his concern over the island's designation as a national park.

"There are some places in the world that should not be developed, and a national park is a form of development. There are discussions about having campsites on Sable Island. I just think that is a bad idea," Donham said.

Marge Blunden, who sailed her boat to Sable Island two years ago, thinks others should be able to have the experience of a lifetime.

"It was magical," she said Tuesday.

"If a national park means that people can go like we did on small boats, or in small groups, and really appreciate that this is a pristine place and you're not to leave anything behind, then, yes, it could be a national park."



Activist says something's 'fishy' with Canadian seal skin market

By Stephanie Dearing
Digital Journal
Apr 27, 2010

Blueback hooded seal pup coat from Germany 1975
Blueback (hooded) seal coat from Germany, 1975

Saint John's - The International Fund for Animal Welfare is wondering why the prices for seal pelts have nearly doubled for some sealers when the market has been suffering from a lack of demand.
This article was corrected on April 28.

This year's seal hunt is expected to end in early May due to a combination of a warm spring and a lack of market for seal skins. Although less sealers have gone out this year, and the catch tallies less than 75,000 seals thus far, the lack of ice has turned out to be a boon for sealers, making hunting easier. Frank Pinhorn, spokesperson for the Canadian Sealers Association, told The Telegram "This is perfect conditions for sealing because the ice is not packed together. Whatever ice is there is just filled with seals."

The nearly doubled price being paid for seal skins has prompted the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to ask what is going on. IFAW's senior researcher, Sheryl Fink said in a press release

"Something smells fishy here. Why is it that Quebec sealers are throwing pelts back into the water while Newfoundland sealers now have a buyer for 72,000 skins? It seems strange if NuTan is able to purchase sealskins at almost double last year's price when other Newfoundland processors are unable to get rid of their stockpiled pelts. It also seems remarkable that the demand for seal pelts would skyrocket in less than a week.

... It doesn't make sense. Both the inequality of market opportunities for sealers from different provinces, and the supposed rise in demand for sealskins in Newfoundland are unusual. Processors paid too much for skins in 2006 and as a result still have stockpiles today. It is possible that they are making the same mistake again this year, but it is perhaps more likely that funds are coming from other sources."

Fink was referring to an under-reported incident whereby seal pelts were allegedly thrown away by sealers on board the Jean-Matthieu boat, the only boat to go sealing from the Magdalen Islands this year. The sealers said they couldn't sell the skins.

Predictions for 2010 seal skin prices were not optimistic. It was thought prices would continue to be low, due to a constricted market and a surplus of inventory. Last week, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) reported going prices were $15.00 per pelt. But of a sudden, out of nowhere, the prices being offered to Newfoundland sealers has increased.

Ask those in the sealing industry for an explanation, and they will say the market has improved, an answer that raises questions due to the fact it does not jive with previously noted market conditions. Because of those poor market conditions, only about 40 boats went out sealing in Newfoundland this year.

Reached by telephone Tuesday, Frank Pinhorn noted the current catch is well below the quote set by DFO. He said two companies were purchasing seal skins, but refused to name them. He said "... last year, the number one beater [an older Harp seal] was $14 and this year it's $23.50, so the price is almost double what it was last year."

Pinhorn attributed the sealing industry decline to the recession.

"The fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador is not immune to none of these things. I said the market was slow but I didn't say it was done completely. There's still some activity, there's still people buying furs and the industry is still alive and well. It's not where we want it to be but its way better to a certain degree. The price this year is much better than it was last year, and two of five companies are buying. We never said the industry was dead. And all our sealers this year had to have pre-approval before they could go sailing. What happened to the people in Quebec was they didn't have pre-approval."

Pre-approval means securing "... a market for your product before you leave the wharf ... Before you go sailing you have an agreement in principle from the companies that when you come in ... they will buy your products. The Newfoundland people who went sealing this year all had pre-approval..."

Pinhorn is very optimistic about next year's sealing saying "The industry is showing some signs of recovery, the prices are better this year and the industry will be closer to normal within a year."

Reached by telephone Tuesday, Fink mused over the possible reasons for the sudden higher prices being offered to Newfoundland sealers. One favoured theory she has heard was that one east coast fish processor, one of the largest in the Canadian industry, is trying to lure in crab fishers by sweetening the pot, taking their seal skins and offering a premium price for the product. She said one company buying seal pelts this year is Nutan, a subsidiary of Atlantic Marine Products, which is owned by Barry Group Inc., which is one of the major crab and fish processing companies. She explains some suggestions circulating around, "So it looks like what they're doing is they're buying seal pelts from the boats that sell their crabs to them regularly ... and I don't know if this is tied in there with some kind of incentive or some kind of way to get them to ... fish crab at the lower prices when other crab fishermen are refusing to do so by kind of sweetening the deal by paying for seal skins as well this year."

Fink also thought it was possible a subsidy from either the federal or provincial governments had been provided to Nutan to stimulate purchasing. " ... I know Nutan has received numerous federal and provincial subsidies in the past because the other major seal processing company Carino, is based out of Norway so [perhaps] there was preference given to the local company. I don't know if that's what's going on here. The whole thing just seems very weird and I would think someone would start asking questions about it."

Correction: Nutan's media relations person was in Europe, but another person from the company, who asked not to be named or quoted responded to IFAW's allegations via email on Tuesday, but clarified the comments Wednesday. The representative said that the information regarding the number of pelts Nutan would purchase was erroneous. The representative did not know the source of the error. The representative clarified the situation by email Wednesday, saying Nutan would not purchase raw materials if it did not think it could sell the finished product.

On Tuesday the representative said Nutan did not say it would purchase less than 15,000 skins, adding that number was from 2009. The representative also blamed the recent slump in the sealing industry on the global recession. The source also said Fink was implying Nutan was being funded by the government, that activist organizations would never consider that improving markets would be the reason for increasing the purchases of raw products and the increase in prices for pelts.

The source noted that the prices it offered last year for a Grade A pelt were $15.00, plus $2.50 for the blubber, pointing out the increase in prices for 2010 were only 25% more than last year’s prices. Nutan only deals with seal products, the source said.
The Nutan representative was referring to reports that circulated just a few weeks ago stating Nutan had committed to purchase only 15,000 pelts in 2010.

Information about Barry Group Inc., Atlantic Marine Products Inc., and Nutan Furs Inc. is not publicly posted by the companies. Atlantic Marine Products Inc. does not have a website. The Barry Group earned the ire of conservationists by offering to purchase 200 grey seal skins last year, thus ensuring the limited hunt would take place.

On Wednesday, the Nutan source said The Barry Group did not own either Atlantic Marine Products or Nutan. Nutan purchased Atlantic Marine Products in 2007. The source said it was thought that the Barry Group did not want to be associated with the seal hunt in any way, selling Nutan to another un-named company at some unknown time in the past.

Newfoundland's crab fishery is in peril this year. A House of Commons Committee will be conducting an inquiry into the mess, which surfaced in early April; while fishermen are demanding an investigation of the DFO for mismanagement of the crab fishery. The DFO cut quotas for crabs by a very large amount, while prices to be paid to crabbers are low.



Sealers group, Humane Society at odds over poll findings

harp seal pup
A young harp seal rests on the ice off the coast of Cape Breton island, Nova Scotia, March 31, 2008. Photograph by: Paul Darrow/Reuters, np

By Bradley Bouzane, Canwest News Service
April 6, 2010

A recent poll reveals half of Newfoundland sealers surveyed support a federal buyout of the industry, which would involve fishermen and vessel owners being compensated for their sealing licences, and money being invested in economic alternatives for affected communities.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the Humane Society International/Canada, an animal rights group that opposes the hunt, said half of the 181 sealers it polled by telephone between Dec. 7, 2009 and Jan. 24, 2010 were in favour of a buyout. The poll is considered accurate plus or minus 7.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

But the Canadian Sealers Association does not see that as a reasonable option and disputes the poll's accuracy.

"There's 11,000 licensed sealers in Newfoundland and Labrador and I don't know where they got the sealers," said Frank Pinhorn, executive director of the Canadian Sealers Association in Newfoundland. "I don't think their base for doing this survey is representative in any meaningful percentage."

The humane society said the poll indicates the sealers' desire to take an alternate route instead of receiving government subsidies to keep the industry viable.

"The Canadian government claims they are supporting sealers by promoting and subsidizing the sealing industry," Humane Society executive director Rebecca Aldworth said in a news release. "Yet this poll reveals broad support among sealers for a federal buyout of the sealing industry — a solution that would allow Canada to gracefully exit a controversy that has haunted us for five decades."

With the hunt set to open off Newfoundland's northeast coast on Thursday, one thing the two sides can seem to agree on is a depressed market for seal products.

Pinhorn said a reduced market is not only felt by the sealing industry, however, and expands into other fisheries as well.

"The sealing industry is not immune in 2009 or 2010 to what is happening worldwide with respect to the recession," Pinhorn said from Conception Bay South, just outside St. John's. "The market is cold on shrimp and lobsters and everything people in rural Newfoundland and Labrador harvest for a living."

Pinhorn estimates the total seal hunt this year will be similar to 2009, with only between 50,000 and 70,000 seals harvested. The quota set by the federal government is 335,000.

He insists the release of the poll is a ploy for groups opposed to the annual seal hunt to stay relevant when poor conditions do not allow them to be in the public eye during the harvest.

"Normally these groups make their pilgrimage to the Gulf (of St. Lawrence) each year and stick their helicopters down on the ice. But there's no ice out there this year, so they have to maintain their profile somehow," Pinhorn said. "It's an excuse to make people believe they're still doing something meaningful. It's another way for them to deceive the general public to get money into their accounts for selfish reasons. That's exactly what this is."

© Copyright Canwest News Service



Less symbolism, more realism please

Editorial: Nunavut
March 16, 2010

When Nunavut’s nine regular MLAs voted as one last week to pass a motion barring the Nunavut Liquor Commission from buying alcohol products from the European Union, even they knew their gesture was futile.

Baffin South MLA Fred Schell admitted as much. “Mr. Speaker, I think that we all recognize that the actions proposed by this motion have a significant degree of symbolism attached to them,” Schell said March 11.

That, more than anything else Schell said that day, illustrates the utter shallowness of Nunavut’s EU liquor boycott. It’s all symbolism and no substance.

But this, perhaps, is appropriate, since the entire issue has never consisted of anything more than an infantile war over symbols and images.

The animal rights fundraising industry, which started this stupid dispute in the 1970s, relies entirely on distorted imagery to make a case against seal hunting that has never been supported by evidence or reason.

“Perception of the seal hunt seems to be based largely on emotion, and on visual images that are often difficult even for experienced observers to interpret with certainty,” the World Wildlife Fund, a respected conservation organization, said in 2005.

But this does not mean that it’s wise for those affected by the EU ban on seal products, passed last year in the European Union, to indulge in their own forms of stupidity.

To that end, it’s worth looking at some hard facts. Nunavut, for example, claims to possess a sealing “industry” just like Newfoundland, Norway, Greenland and Namibia.

But in 2007-08, more than one year prior to the EU seal ban, only 1,101 Nunavut seal pelts, bought from hunters by the Government of Nunavut, were sold at auction, generating a grand total of $61,551 in sales. That represents less than the total salary earned by one low-level GN worker.

In 2008-09, Nunavut sales were better: 4,059 pelts, for a total of $155,485.

The seal hunt in Newfoundland, on the other hand, generates about $7 million a year, based on an annual cull of up to 280,000 seals. This year the Department of Fisheries and Oceans raised the total allowable catch on the east coast to 330,000. Norwegian sealers have taken up to 15,000 seals a year, though this number has recently dropped. In Greenland, hunters take up to 90,000 a year. In the Africa nation of Namibia, hunters take up to 90,000.

These countries can claim to possess small-scale sealing industries. But in Nunavut, sealing is not an industry and never has been an industry. Though it’s an important expression of cultural identity, in hard cash, seal hunting contributes virtually nothing to Nunavut’s economy.

In Nunavut, sealing is a small home-based activity, subsidized partly by GN purchases of seal pelts at a guaranteed price, and by other social programs.

The biggest subsidy, however, is that provided by the unpaid labour and capital contributed by hunters. Using equipment they pay for themselves, Nunavut hunters harvest and distribute nutritious food throughout their families and communities for free most of the time.

This is the biggest economic benefit of the Nunavut seal hunt: thousands of kilograms of protein that Nunavut residents would otherwise be forced to buy in local retail stores.

Nunavut, of course, could develop a real sealing industry. The eastern Arctic’s ring seal population is estimated at around five million and could likely sustain higher levels of harvesting than exist now.

But over the past 25 years, territorial governments have failed to create even a semblance of a sealing industry. This is due not only to economic development blundering, but also to an unwillingness by all governments to invest in the infrastructure that Nunavut would need to develop a sealing industry, such as harbours, buildings and equipment.

For example, if you’re a clothing maker and you want to buy seal pelts to make a garment, it’s sometimes impossible to find anyone in Nunavut capable of selling them to you. Crafts people who make such things in Nunavut have been known to buy seal pelts from as far away as Namibia. And, unlike Greenland, a commercial market for seal meat scarcely exists.

A boycott is a legitimate expression of political protest. But boycotts work best when individuals make their own decisions about what to buy and what not to buy. Schell’s coercive motion deprives Nunavut consumers of the ability to do this.

But this comes as no surprise. Schell already demonstrated that he’s no friend of free consumer choice, when this past November, he called Air Canada “a dangerous and unwelcome predator” for the crime of offering lower air fares to Iqaluit residents.

In any event, the sealing issue in Nunavut never was about economics. It’s about cultural identity and the primal insecurities that Inuit feel when they perceive that their identity is threatened.

But empty symbolism, such as the Nunavut’s EU liquor boycott, will not protect cultural identity or assuage these insecurities.

If Schell and other Nunavut MLAs want to do something useful to promote seal hunting, they could start by embracing realism.

And that includes pressing the government to foster a sealing industry that actually creates wealth, jobs and above all, nutritious food. That it took outside agencies to inform Nunavut leaders that many families within the territory suffer from malnutrition is bad enough. That they continue to ignore this reality is even worse. JB



Canadian Parliament to serve seal meat at lunch

By CHARMAINE NORONHA (AP) – March 8, 2010

TORONTO — The Canadian Parliament's restaurant will serve seal meat this week in support of hunters battling a European Union ban on seal products, a Liberal senator said Monday.

Celine Hervieux-Payette said Wednesday's seal meat lunch menu will allow politicians to demonstrate their backing for the annual hunt.

"All political parties will have the opportunity to demonstrate to the international community the solidarity of the Canadian Parliament behind those who earn a living from the seal hunt," she said in a statement.

The EU ban on seal imports was imposed last July on the grounds that Canada's annual hunt was inhumane.

The East Coast seal hunt, the largest in the world, kills an average of 275,000 harp seals during mid-November to mid-May. The seals are either shot or hit over the head with a spiked club called a hakapik.

Animal rights groups believe the hunt is cruel, poorly monitored and provides little economic benefit. Seal hunters and Canadian authorities say it is sustainable, humane and provides income for isolated communities.

The EU ban includes processed goods derived from seals, including their skins — which are used to make coats, bags and clothing — as well as meat, oil blubber, organs and seal oil, which is used in some omega-3 pills.

It exempts products derived from traditional hunts carried out by Inuit in Canada's Arctic, as well as those from Greenland, Alaska and Russia.

Canada has requested consultations with the EU at the World Trade Organization, which is the first step before launching an official trade challenge to salvage a Canadian industry valued at $10 million Canadian dollars ($9.7 million) in exports last year.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.



Nunavut politician urges ban on European alcohol over seal-hunt protest

Grey seals
File photo of a herd of young Grey seals on Hay island off the coast of Nova Scotia (c) Reuters

By Laura Stone , Canwest News Service
March 6, 2010

A member of Nunavut’s government has proposed a ban on all liquor imported from Europe as a symbolic and retaliatory gesture against the continent for barring the sale of seal products from Canada.

South Baffin representative Fred Schell says he will propose a motion next week in the Nunavut legislature that seeks to stop the import of booze from the European Union into the territory’s three liquor stores. Schell said it’s a reaction to the EU decision last summer to essentially eliminate the trade of seal-product imports such as pelts, oil and meat, on the basis that the hunt is inhumane.

“I don’t think it’s right, what they did,” said Schell. “For a small population like we are, it affects a lot if you can’t sell your skins. That means a lot of dollars to a lot of people that have no other income other than hunting.”

Schell estimates thousands of people in his territory of 30,000 residents are affected by the ban, which has resulted in dropping pelt prices. According to the Fisheries Department, 5,000 to 6,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador also derive some income from sealing, which is also practised in Quebec and elsewhere in Atlantic Canada.

It’s estimated the prohibition, which officially becomes law this spring, will result in a $2.4-million loss for the Canadian industry, which has taken a hit over the past couple of years. While pelts sold for $97 each in 2006, the price dropped to $33 in 2008.

The move to ban European alcohol — which is purchased by the Nunavut government — won’t result in a significant monetary loss for the EU’s 27 countries, but Schell said he hopes it will get the continent to reconsider the ban.

“It’s not a big dollar value, but it’s basically to get the point across, and I’m hoping that Newfoundland and the rest of Canada pays attention to this, and maybe they’ll do something to get (the EU) to change their mind on the ban,” he said, adding that the seal hunt is not wasteful and that all parts of the animal are used.

Canada has already filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over the decision to ban trade in seal products, saying the Canadian hunt meets internationally accepted humanitarian, scientific and environmental standards. Members of Canada’s Inuit community are pursuing legal action against the EU for banning importation.

In the meantime, Canada has launched an aggressive campaign to sell seal meats and products in China in hopes that it will be enough to save the industry.

© Copyright Canwest News Service



The economics of ending Canada's commercial harp seal hunt

John Livernois, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1

Marine Policy
Volume 34, Issue 1
January 2010
Pages 42–53


The roots of the Canadian harp seal hunt can be traced to the 16th Century. But in the mid-20th century, opposition to the commercial hunt became widespread after television images of seal pups being killed with clubs on the pack ice off the coast of Newfoundland were broadcast around the world. International conservation groups, animal welfare groups, animal rights groups, and foreign governments have been calling for the Canadian government to end the commercial seal hunt on the grounds that it is inhumane and that harvest levels are unsustainable. The Canadian government defends the traditional practices of hunting harp seals, argues that seal pelts are an important source of income for sealers, and insists that the killing methods are humane and that harvest levels are sustainable. Emotions run high on both sides of the debate. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate whether or not there is a purely economic argument for ending Canada's commercial seal hunt. The paper finds that the benefits of ending the commercial hunt exceed the costs, but not unequivocally. However, the paper argues there should be a higher criterion—the Pareto criterion—for ending the commercial hunt; that is the hunt should end only if winners compensate the losers. The paper goes on to argue that an effective way to satisfy this criterion is to introduce a system of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) and let the market reveal the value of the commercial seal hunt. In addition to many other advantages such as improving the safety and efficiency of the hunt, the ITQ market could provide a mechanism by which those willing to pay to end the hunt could do so directly to sealers thereby ensuring that the hunt is scaled back or ultimately ended only when it is economically efficient and unambiguously welfare-improving.

For the full text, visit Elsevier.


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