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How Whole Foods Market is Enabling Canada's Seal Hunt

September 04, 2005 | Seals

> “If it is determined that population control of the seals is necessary for the balance of the ecosystem and health of the seal population, then we will encourage the fisherman and the Canadian government to find more humane ways to achieve this.”

> -- Whole Foods Market website.

Whole Foods Market, promising “the best environmental choices for seafood,” is now invoking Canada’s annual seal slaughter on its online Products page.

The company explains that Canadian coast dwellers “kill baby seals in the off-season from fishing by clubbing them to death or shooting them primarily to sell their fur” and announces that it’s therefore featuring non-Canadian fish products, and “suspending any purchase of seafood from the areas where the brutal killing of baby seals is taking place until the fishermen commit to stopping this practice.”

This implies that it’s the coastal residents making the hunting decisions. In reality, it’s the government that sets a seal kill quota. Canada’s government must commit to stopping the killing of seals.

But what is Whole Foods Market saying to the Canadian government? Something to the effect of: “Oh, do stop, or we’ll hit you with a wet noodle!”

The upmarket grocer expressly defers to the Canadian government’s decisions about controlling the seal population -- having the gall to say that killing quotas, as determined by the Canadian government, would be for the seals’ own good -- and then assures customers it will “encourage the fisherman and the Canadian government to find more humane ways” to kill.

Why? Before Europeans settled the North American coast there were, according to the Green Party of Canada, some “24 million harp seals living in balance with so many fish that their abundance could impede the passage of ships.” Today, after decades of hunting, less than 5 million harp seals remain, and Canadian authorities appear to be on the verge of announcing a five-year plan which could involve the slaughter of more than a million animals.

And who will enable them to do it? This autumn, Whole Foods Market is providing “input” at the Canadian government’s Seal Forum. And for more information, Whole Foods Market sends visitors to the website of the Humane Society of the United States.

Friends of Animals takes an unequivocal stand against the seal hunt. Demand that Canada’s government stop using grocery marketers and welfare groups for cover. Call upon officials to end the hunt this year -- for good.

Politely but firmly make your views known to:

The Right Honourable Paul Martin, Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street Ottawa
Ontario Canada, K1A 0A2
Facsimile: 1-613-941-6900

Pamela Wallin, Canadian Consul General to New York
1251 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY United States 10020-1175
Telephone: 1-212-596-1628
Facsimile: 1-212-596-1790

Ask Canada to become a beacon of a humane global society by calling an immediate stop to the seal hunt. Because killing seals is not just cruel: it’s also immoral.

[Reference: Whole Food Market, “Products: Seafood: Seal Hunt Statement” (2005).]

[See also our feature in the Fall 2005 issue of Act•ionLine: What Next for Canada's Hunted Seals?]


I love the innocent seals. They never did anything to us, so why are we hurting them? We must save the seals!

To all the participants of this discussion: The International Fund for Animals Welfare (IFAW) is described as targeting Red Lobster as recently as this month, in a statement published by a representative of the Humane Society of the United States in the Omaha Independent Media. Full text follows. If IFAW is anywhere clearly stating that they do not support HSUS's campaign, we'd love to hear it. To our knowledge, so far Friends of Animals is the only group objecting to the instrumental use of other marine animals as temporary bargaining chips in the seal campaigning. 1 Oct 05
Exploring the seal-seafood connection
Melanie Baker McCain On Sept. 19, Jim DeSimone of Darden Restaurants stated he was "...confused why they (the Humane Society of the United States) have targeted Red Lobster" in the Canadian Seafood Boycott to end the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of baby harp seals in Canada. Please allow me to clarify. The HSUS and other organizations such as IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have targeted Red Lobster because, to quote Sea Shepherd, "The Red Lobster restaurant chain is the world's largest purchaser of Canadian seafood and, in particular, seafood sold by Canadian sealers." As the largest purchaser of Canadian seafood, Red Lobster has the power to permanently end the seal hunt with the stroke of a pen. That is why we have targeted Red Lobster, and will continue to do so. What is happening to the seals is morally reprehensible. They are skinned, many while still alive and conscious, and their bodies discarded. Hundreds of thousands of baby seals each year suffer painful and prolonged deaths to produce an unnecessary luxury item. To be quite honest, I am confused as to why this is accepted. Melanie Baker McCain is a volunteer with the Protect Seals Campaign of The Humane Society of the United States.

One writer asked, "[W]on't the other sea creatures be thankful to Whole Foods and the other seafood sellers who joined the boycott and gave them a reprive from being killed." First, this question itself conceives living members of the marine biocommunity as seafood. If the writer, like Whole Foods Market, accepts that marine animals are our commodities, then we simply have different views. Second, the answer is: No, fish and other marine animals will not be thankful for a reprieve. There is no reprieve. Under the boycott, grocers and restaurants are are still selling to buyers. The boycott doesn't ask anyone to stop selling, or to sell any less. Only to sell from other waters. Lee Hall,
Friends of Animals.


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