The Canadian seal hunt has been a hot debate topic for a long time. Seal hunters, of course maintain that the practice is vital to their livelihoods while animal rights groups say it’s just a senseless slaughter whose main point is to harvest baby seal pelts for the sake of fashion.
Aboriginals living in the Canadian arctic have been hunting seals for centuries and use them for food, lamp and cooking fuel and used the skins and pelts for clothing. The practice continues today for most of the same reasons. Seal meat is an important source of food for residents of small coastal communities.
Thel meat is also exported to Asia for animal feed; seal leather is exported all over the world as is seal oil which is high in Omega-3 fats. And we all know what a hot commodity Omega-3 fats are at the moment.
The hunt takes place mainly in northern Newfoundland and Labrador in an area where the jobless rate is in excess of 15%. Approximately 6,000 people earn one-third of their income from sealing. The allowable catch quota for 2009 has been set at 280,000.
That sounds like a lot of seals. Especially when we think of the horrible images of the cute, big-eyed baby seals being clubbed to death with hakapiks.
Hakapiks are, in fact only used when sealers can’t use harpoons or when there are too many sealers in one area to safely use a rifle. A report in the Canadian Veterinary Journal found that 98% of seals taken in the hunt are killed in a humane manner.
Some of you may remember Sir Paul McCartney and the psycho bitch lovely woman who was then his wife strapping themselves to an ice floe to protect the seals.
Just this month the European Union voted to impose a ban on all seal products.
This is all so interesting to me because I don’t see how harvesting seals is any different from farming and slaughtering cattle, chickens, pigs, lambs, etc. If cameras were as freely allowed inside slaughterhouses maybe Sir Paul and the wife du jour would be strapping themselves to meat hooks.
The federal government keeps a close eye on the seal hunt. It’s not the free-for-all bloodfest we keep seeing in the media. There are only 3 types of seals allowed in the hunt: harp seals, hooded seals and grey seals. Most of the hunt is for harp seals. The cute, big-eyed white seals the animal rights groups always show are the newborn harp seals called “whitecoats”.
The killing of whitecoats has actually been banned in Canada since the mid-1980s. But I guess photos of adult harp seals wouldn’t garner as much sympathy.
As a vegetarian I am, of course, no fan of slaughtering any animal for food or any other purpose when there are so many other options available. But I’m even less of a fan of hypocrisy.
If we’re going deprive these sealers of a good part of their livelihood and source of food, then we should also impose a ban on all other animal products. Everywhere. Including the European Union.
I bring this topic up now because it’s sealing season up north, and also because of what our beautiful Governor General, Michaëlle Jean did yesterday.
She’s on a tour of the Canadian arctic regions and classy lady that she is, she joined in the native seal hunt. She got right in there and gutted a seal, then along with the other sealers pulled out the animal’s heart and ate a chunk of it. Raw. Then she daintly wiped her bloody hands on a tissue.
She wanted to show solidarity with the beleaguered sealers. She said,
It was absolutely delicious. These are ancient practices that are part of a way of life. If you can’t understand that, you’re completely missing the reality of life here.
Warm, raw seal heart apparantly tastes like sushi. The woman rocks.