Subject: Case Study:Canada Revives Seal Massacre (Not for Elem)

Michael Williamson (whe_william)
Mon, 22 Feb 1995 09:44:03

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Subject: Case Study:Canada Revives Seal Massacre (Not for Elem)
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Subj:	Canada Revives Seal Massacre
 
Date:         Thu, 16 Feb 1995 08:27:07 -0500
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Subject:      Canada Revives Seal Massacre
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CANADA REVIVES SEAL MASSACRE
Sex Organs Sold To Aphrodisiac Trade
(reprinted from ANIMAL PEOPLE,  March 1995)
 
 ST. JOHN'S,  Newfoundland-- Deflecting Atlantic provincial wrath,  the
Canadian government preceded the February 3 admission that northern cod have
been fished to commercial extinction by declaring a bounty on seals and
opening a "recreational" seal hunt.  The quota of 194,000--186,000 harp seals
plus 8,000 hooded seals--is close to the toll during the years before the
offshore clubbing of infant harp seals was halted under international protest
in 1985.
 Sealers won't have to leave shore to club,  shoot,  and hack baby seals and
their mothers this year.  For the first time since 1982,  there is no ice in
the Gulf of St. Lawrence,  forcing harp seals and hooded seals ashore to
whelp.
 "It's going to be bloody,"  promised Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society.  "I was there the last time this happened.  Every Tom,
 Dick,  and Harry from the villages was down there trying to club seals and
not doing it right and ending up skinning them alive.  It'll be worse this
year because they're angry.  Atlantic Canada is now locked into a permanent
poverty cycle.  They've just been told they'll be poor for the rest of their
lives:  those cod stocks aren't coming back in their lifetimes."
 Already reports have been received of seals being "shot and dynamited in
Atlantic Canada by vigilantes,"  said Anne Doncaster of the International
Wildlife Coalition.  On Prince Edward Island,  IWC correspondent Pat Gray
said a live seal had been found on the beach with her flippers cut off.
 Similar incidents were reported last year.
 "The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is apparently terrified there will
be another uncontrolled slaughter,  and are trying to prepare for the worst,"
 Doncaster said.
 Video from the 1982 landsman's hunt,  as shoreline sealing is called,  was
key in persuading the European Community to ban the import of sealskins three
years later.
Eating genitals
 But the sealers don't need the European market now.  The Asian aphrodisiac
trade swallows all the seal genitals Canada can provide--literally,  as
they're made into cocktails and potions sold at the notorious child-brothels
of  so-called "sex-port" centers catering to the beliefs,  strong in Asia,
 that sex with very young partners can restore youth;  that sex with children
avoids AIDS;  and that men of enhanced virility sire sons.  The United
Nations Children's Fund reported on December 15 that as many as half a
million children a year are exploited in sex-ports by growing numbers of
pedophiles who fly in from abroad.  Thailand and the Philippines have an
estimated 100,000 child-prostitutes apiece.  At least eight other Southeast
Asian nations are also deeply involved.
 Beyond the link to commercialized pedophilia,  points out Doncaster,  "These
are the same markets that are responsible for the illegal traffic in
critically endangered tigers and rhinos."
 Tacitly acknowledging at least part of the linkage,  the Taiwan Council of
Agriculture on January 29 urged citizens to refrain from consuming products
made from endangered wildlife on trips abroad during the Chinese Lunar New
Year holidays,  which began on January 31.  Seal genitals might be
acceptable;  tiger genitals,  not.  Taiwan is trying to overcome an image as
 hub of the global traffic in products made from endangered species,  to
escape limited U.S. trade sanctions imposed in August 1994.  The sanctions
are expected to cost Taiwan about $25 million annually in export income.
 Before Canada discovered the genital trade,  the landman's sealing kill
averaged circa 25,000.  Last year,  however,   Terra Nova Fisheries Co. of
St. John's contracted to supply 50,000 seal carcasses to Shanghai Fisheries,
 of China--whereupon Canada boosted the sealing quota to 57,000.  This year
unofficial reports claim Asian buyers want 180,000 seal carcasses.
 The whole carcasses are sold and used,  which enables the Canadian
government to deny that the seals are being killed just for genitals.  But
the genitals alone fetch up to $130 per set on the current retail market,
 while the pelt,  meat,  and oil of a seal go for about $20.  Among the
primary markets for the seal meat are mink and fox farms.  Atlantic Canadians
buy about 6,000 frozen "flipper pies" per year,  but otherwise very little
seal meat goes to human consumption.
Political stakes
 The money to be had from selling seal carcasses is still small change
compared to the former worth of the Atlantic Canada fishery,  but the seal
hunt has political meaning for the whole of Canada.  Traditionally  each of
the 10 provinces is represented by at least one cabinet minister,  picked
from among the elected Members of Parliament.  Newfoundland,  New Brunswick,
 Nova Scotia,  and Prince Edward Island among them elect only a handful of
Members because of their small populations,  but those Members accordingly
hold disproportionate influence.  The Atlantic influence has been heightened
for the past 30 years by the constant threat that Quebec,  the fifth sealing
province,  might secede--which would isolate the Atlantic provinces from the
rest of Canada,  but meanwhile gives them the balance of power in a perennial
three-way struggle among Quebec,  industrialized Ontario,  and the largely
agrarian west.  For 28 of the past 30 years a prime minister from Quebec has
held power and kept Quebec in confederation through maintaining an alliance
with Atlantic Canada.  The names have changed,  from Pierre Trudeau to Brian
Mulroney to Jean Cretien,  and the ruling parties have been alternately
Liberal and Progressive-Conservative,  but for pro-confederation Quebeckers,
 the key to placating the separatists has been getting special concessions
for French-speaking Quebecois from Ottawa;  the key to that has been keeping
Atlantic Canadian support;  and the key to keeping Atlantic Canadian support
has been telling Atlantic Canadians what they want to hear.  One government
after another preferred to absorb the force of global opinion against
seal-clubbing,  rather than risk losing Atlantic Canadian votes and perhaps
the nation by stopping it.  Only when the EU cut off the  market for pelts
and made it possible for Canadian leaders to throw off the blame did any dare
act against it.
 With the separatist Parti Quebecois back in power in Quebec since last year,
 the game is on again.  Soon after Pariseau took office,  leaders of the
Quebec-dominated Liberal party began calling for a revived and expanded seal
hunt.
Denial
 Taking notice of the Terra Nova contract and a resolution in favor of
sealing by the Liberal party convention last May,  the International Fund for
Animal Welfare made banner headlines across Canada with a two-page ad in the
Toronto Globe & Mail and a press conference in Charlottetown,  Prince Edward
Island,  at which executive director Richard Moore gave explicit details of
the role of seal genitals in the aphrodisiac market.  But most marine mammal
protection activists were preoccupied with the simultaneous struggles to
renew the Marine Mammal Protection Act,  then before Congress;  win creation
of the Southern Oceans Whale Sanctuary,  then before the International
Whaling Commission;  and forestall a Japanese and Norwegian bid to lift the
global moratorium on commercial whaling,  also before the IWC.
 Fisheries minister Brian Tobin meanwhile made soothing statements.  As late
as July 7, the Ottawa Citizen reported,  "Tobin said that Canada will not
consider a return to seal culling on its east coast,  despite fishermen's
claims that the seals threaten Newfoundland's endangered northern cod.
 Evidence of the impact of the seals in the destruction of cod was not clear,
 he said.  'There is no doubt in my mind that man has been a far greater
predator.'"
Cod crash
 The northern cod fishery yielded 3.1 million metric tons of fish in 1970,
 but had declined by two-thirds when Canada finally began conservation
measures in 1988.  Even then,  the cutbacks were half-hearted until 1992,
 when the catch fell to just 400,000 metric tons.  Former
Progressive-Conservative fisheries minister John Crosbie was forced to halt
all cod fishing for at least three years,  putting from 30,000 to 35,000
people out of work and helping insure the PC defeat in the 1994 general
election.   By then it was too late.  Five straight years of abnormally cold
water inhibited spawning.  The cod stock is now estimated at only 2,700
metric tons,  according to Canadian Department of Fisheries deputy minister
for science Scott Parsons,  who adds it will need at least 15 years to
recover.
 Even in announcing the expanded seal hunt,  including the bounty of 20c per
pound on seals killed,  which Quebec and the Atlantic provinces are expected
to match, Tobin and Canadian Fisheries Resource Conservation Council
scientists admitted a lack of scientific evidence that seals have hurt the
cod fishery.  Instead,  they deferred to the "perceptions" and "common sense"
of the fishing industry.
 The expanded seal hunt follows the recommendation of a study group on the
status of the cod fishery,  appointed by Tobin,  which consisted of nine
representatives of the fishing industry,  two oceanographers,  a chemist,  a
professor of commerce,  and a professor of psychology.  They reported that
the crisis was caused by a combination of foreign overfishing with Canadian
management practices that "are contrary to the conservation process."  They
conceded that,  "the desired level of scientific evidence is not available"
to indict seals--but strongly urged killing seals anyway,  simply because,
 "an imbalance is perceived between the amount of fish eaten by seals and the
amount that may be taken by fishermen.
 Damage control proceded immediately.  Effective February 9,  Cretien
appointed former fisheries minister Romeo Leblanc,  longtime lead defender of
the seal hunt under Trudeau,  to serve as Governor-General of Canada--the
official Canadian emissary to the British Commonwealth,  from which direction
much of the pressure against renewed sealing is expected.
 A February 21 "forum on seal management" in St. John's is to present an
economic and scientific rationale for the killing,  in apparent hopes of
forstalling opposition from the general public.  The bloodbath is expected to
follow immediately thereafter.
(ANIMAL PEOPLE is a newspaper,  providing independent professional coverage
of the whole range of animal protection issues & perspectives since 1992.
 Subscriptions are $18/year,  $30/2 years,  or $40/3 years;  write to POB
205, Shushan,  NY 12873.  We'll send a free sample on request--just provide
your full U.S. postal address.  Cheers,  Merritt Clifton,  editor.)