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DFO request for public input regarding observer distance from seal kill

February 17, 2007 | Seals

Addressing Canada's seal regs from a vegan perspective

To the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:

On behalf of Friends of Animals, an international organization with offices in Canada and the U.S., I hereby respond to your call for comments on the suitability of increasing the space legally allowed between observers and the government-sanctioned seal killing off the Newfoundland and surrounding coastal areas.

Our view is this: The distance is irrelevant. We want it to be known that there is nothing left to document. Little if anything has ever been accomplished from efforts to document this killing event. We do not need more degrading footage of people killing seals. The time has come to support residents of a depressed economy in ways that acknowledge both the inherent worth of human beings and the lives of sea animals.

The question is not if the killing is cruel, or how cruel the killing is. The question is when the government of Canada will stop issuing quotas and rules and using the seals as substitutes for a real economic solution to the situation of coastal residents. Filming the kill and issuing penalties against the people engaged to carry it out does not address the root problem but instead exacerbates it.

This pointless deliberation over rules and regulations is another waste of Canadian resources that would be better directed into the provisions of real economic and social solutions.

Dave Shiskoff
Canadian Correspondent
Friends of Animals


Disgusting! The seal slaughter needs to stop once and for all! Wake up Canada and stop this barbaric slaughter of the innocent baby harp seals...this is disgusting, inhumane, brutal and these are babies!!! what part of the word 'babies' does Canada not understand? this needs to end this year, now, forever! You do not need the fur of a 3 week old baby seal to survive...the Canandian Prime Minister needs to stop this torture. I am sickened every March by this act of complete cruelty.

This unheard of brutality is beyond belief...and it is just so amazing that Canada still is okay with this nightmarish behavior. I would NEVER support ANYTHING Canadian knowing that their gov't sits well with this slaughter. What an atrocious part of Canada this slaughter is. And the worst part is, no one in Canada seems ashamed.

Regarding Sharon & Thomas' comments, they are wrong to say that no one in anada is ashamed! I am ashamed, my family is ashamed, my students are ashamed, my friends are ashamed... We have been making our voice heard for years , we have signed hundreds of petitions and we have been completely ignored. Even many Atlantic Canadians are ashamed, go to and see for yourselves. This is politics, pure and simple. Just as many Americans disagree with the war in Iraq but the war continues anyway, the majority of Canadians disagree with the seal hunt but it continues anyway because it gets votes from those sealing regions. Disgusting but true. It is a small percentage of Canadians that benefit from such a massacre but it is a stubborn lot of , set in their ways and very "proud" of them. It will take pressure from the international community to end the seal hunt. When it is not profitable any more, it will stop. Here is my letter to the editor that got published in the Toronto Star 2 days ago:

I`m kinda disapointed FOA didn`t even ask people to send a letter to the canadian goverment. my, and every canadians taxes pay for this stupid hunt and it should be a right of every canadian to see it if they wish. I`m tired of the goverment throwing away my country`s rescouces on stupid and pointless culls.

My Best friend and I absolutley adore harp seals and we are in the 5th grade.It felt so awful when we found out that harp seals are endangered. So we decided to do something about it. So far we have been selling snacks, keychains, coloring books,and much more! We hope that all the money that we earn will help make a diffrence and create new and better lifes! - Claire Johnson

Your statement "Little if anything has ever been accomplished from efforts to document this killing event" is erroneous. The increasing international condemnation and the growing list of countries implementing bans of seal products is a direct result of the carnage captured on video every year and shown to the world. European parliamentarians and international journalists witness the slaughter themselves and take their testimony and evidence back to their countries, where the truth is shown to their people. This is precisely *why* DFO is contemplating increasing the observer distance - it wants the hunt to continue unwatched and undocumented. Otherwise, more and more markets for seal products will close and the sealing industry will collapse. Also erroneous is your statement "We do not need more degrading footage of people killing seals". The documentation of the Canadian commercial seal hunt *must* be kept current and up-to-date. Already we are accused of using 20-year old footage. If observeration is rendered impossible we will have no current evidence of the cruelty and government's claims that we use outdated footage will become true. The Canadian commercial seal hunt takes place in public domain. It is our right as Canadians to witness and document it. Other groups urged people to respond to DFO condemning any increase in distance, calling for an end to the seal hunt and requesting the government consider the suggested employment alternatives for those currently involved in the sealing industry. Your response unfortunately gave permission to DFO to render legal and rightful observation of the commercial seal hunt impossible, and to continue the killing in secret. Lastly, your comment above implies that documenting the hunt is the only thing these groups are doing. I can assure you that documenting the annual slaughter is only *part* of the campaign to bring an end to the seal hunt. I am always glad to see groups campaigning for an end to the seal hunt, but for one group to criticize and dismiss another's efforts is extremely disappointing.

Hi Bridget, and thanks for writing! Why do you claim that the international response is in "direct" result to the footage? The footage has been produced for many years. Why is it suddenly having an impact now? Also, please note that there is a lot of other critical media out there about the seal kill, not just the footage. If anything, the footage likely prolonged the killing, because the point seemed to be that people ought to devise killing methods that are less visually disturbing. And in fact they did -- they stopped killing the youngest seals with the whitest coats and they devised a blinking test, to ensure death before skinning. So the issue with using this type of footage is that the killing method is cruel, and rarely raises the idea that perhaps these seals should simply be left alone. True, filming is not the only thing that most activists have been doing. They've also been working hard on this ill-advised 'Canadian seafood boycott', which sends mixed messages about what supposed animal defenders intend, and fails to address the issue in any way. In a teleconference I participated in, anti-seal hunt organizers admitted there's no way to quantify if this is having any sort of an impact at all on the seal kill -- and they aren't talking about how a boycott of only some commercial sea animals undermines the idea that the integrity of marine biocommunity as a whole must be respected, and that of every conscious being within it. Dave Shishkoff (Canadian Correspondent, Friends of Animals)


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