Osocio NL

“Club Seal” and the complicated politics of Canada’s seal hunt

Posted by Tom Megginson | 4-10-2012 01:35 | Category: Animal rights



I am a Canadian, and I was as shocked as everyone else when those brutal images of the baby seal hunt shocked the world in the 1980s. Ever since, Canada has been the focus of anti-sealing campaigns, including during the Olympics:

image

However, you may be surprised to know that, in Canada, seal hunting is a complicated issue. That’s because it involves Aboriginal culture and rights. And even groups like the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) are conflicted when it comes to denying an indigenous group its traditional hunting culture:

The Canadian Government claims that Canada’s commercial seal hunt is important to Inuit, but in reality, commercial sealing and Inuit subsistence sealing are two very different activities.

For example, Inuit in the Canadian Arctic hunt fewer than 1,000 harp seals, mostly adults, during the summer months. This is far removed from Canada’s commercial hunt, which takes place months earlier and slaughters tens or hundreds of thousands of harp seals less than three months old.

So long as it is conducted on a sustainable basis, and that reasonable precautions are taken to minimize unnecessary suffering, IFAW does not oppose the killing of seals for food, clothing and other products for local use by indigenous peoples. Nor do we oppose the sale and local distribution of seal products from subsistence hunts within indigenous communities.

What we do oppose, however, is a government hiding a cruel and wasteful, large-scale industrial slaughter behind aboriginal subsistence hunting, deliberately blurring the distinction between the two.

In that context, I present to you an online ad created by a group calling themselves “Club Seal”. The name sounds like a bad pun, but their argument touches on several current concerns about the sustainability and security of the human food supply:

image

(more after the break)


My personal opinion is that, if seal hunting is as controlled as deer hunting — that is, regulated, humane and for personal or artisanal use — then I can’t oppose it if I do not oppose any other game harvest. That will not be a popular opinion in some circles of our readers, but I have had enough contact with Canada’s first people that I respect their relationship with hunting. (I’m not a hunter myself, by the way.)

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation attempted to look at the complex issues surrounding the seal hunt in an objective way.

Here is their executive summary:

There are few issues more controversial in Canada and around the world than the annual seal hunt that takes place in the waters and on the ice floes off Atlantic Canada.

The bloody images, the heated rhetoric, the impassioned defences all combine in a familiar rite that pits governments and sealers against animal rights groups.

Few facts in this debate go unchallenged. All sides agree on where and when. But the answers to how, why, and even how many aren’t as clear.

Even the language is chosen carefully. Hunt or slaughter. Sea mammals or baby seals. Cherished tradition or economic disaster. Cod-eating nuisance or adorable innocent.

The images of the hunt are even more powerful, and seal hunt opponents know it. Most people find the pictures difficult to watch, but supporters say the same kind of thing happens in slaughterhouses — places where cameras aren’t allowed.

You can read the details here. And leave your own opinion below.

 


Advertiser:
Club Seal




Comments


Comments about

Somebody needs to let the “Seal Club” know that seal pups are, indeed, “harvested”, even according to the Canadian government’s own website.  It IS illegal to kill “whitecoats”, which are seals fewer than 11 days old, but once they begin to lose their white fur, they’re fair game.  The majority of seals killed during the hunt are actually between 12 days and 3 months old, so either Seal Club is woefully uninformed on the very basics of the facts or they’re being deliberately deceptive.  (Native hunters, incidentally, mostly kill adult seals.)

Posted by Grackle | 30-01-2013 01:31



My comment



Comment:




Your comment will not be visible until a moderator approves it.








Some rights reserved 2005-2013 Osocio/Houtlust.
Disclaimer. Terms of use. Privacy statement.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.







Support us

Do you like our blog? Support us with a donation.
We're non-commercial. We all make Osocio pro bono in our spare time and we can use some support.





image of a graduation cap

Recent in Academy


Does social media have the power to change the world?

Does social media have the power to change the world? The answer is yes. But there are still many obstacles, like censorship and literacy. Three-fifths of the world’s population is not connected. This video from the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia is a animated infographic…
Read more

Does Media Matter for International Development?

‘Does Media Matter for International Development?’ is a rhetorical question. From encouraging charitable donations and delivering public health messages to promoting democratic participation and state accountability; the media can play a crucial role in development. How should we respond to the growing importance of the media - including journalism, radio,…
Read more


About Osocio

Osocio is dedicated to social advertising and non-profit campaigns. It’s the place where marketing and activism collide. Formerly known as the Houtlust Blog, Osocio is the central online hub for advertisers, ad agencies, grassroots, activists, social entrepreneurs, and good Samaritans from around the globe.
Read more

(the about page is also available in Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese 汉语/漢語, Deutsch, Español, Français, Italiano, Nihongo 日本語, Ivrit עברית, Filipino, Polski, Português, Russian Русский язык, Slovenčina, Suomi, Svenska and Türkçe)