ALERT: "BEEF OF THE SEA"?
COMMERCIAL HARBOR SEAL HUNTS PROPOSED IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
Although SealWatch.org has previously supported native subsistence hunting in Alaska, the current proposal before Fisheries and Oceans Canada contemplates the "harvest" of nearly 50% of the over 100,000 harbor seals in British Columbia waters. Despite being officially requested by First Nations-supported groups, the explicit goal is to provide meat for Asian consumers, oil extractives for diet supplements, and by-products for the pet food industry. Commercial fishing interests back the project.
Unwarranted rhetoric about "economic racism" and "equal opportunity" for indigenous peoples cannot disguise the blatant attack upon a protected species for simple commercial gain. The resurrection of the long discredited claims that such "culling" provides fisheries protection to salmon, or will somehow benefit Orcas or other currently popular conservation targets reveals the inadequacy of the marine science behind the proposal.
Coincidentally illustrating the market forces driving this initiative, Chinese poaching gangs have been caught with over 100 harbor seal pups this year alone in the Dalian region of Liaoning Province. Although aquariums are reported to purchase some, the animals have also been harvested for restaurants and medicinal use. Similarly, this is the year that expansion plans for a seal oil capsule factory have been finalized on Canada's east coast, with the popularity of Omega 3 products driving the new demand for seal products. Until now, harbor seals have been exempt from such hunting in that nation's waters and coastlines.