Friday, January 13, 2006

How did this Harpen? We're back to the Seals.



So. We're back to the seals. Sure. Okay. Let's talk about it.

NOTE: Please check the comments for further developments.

Credit for this post goes to FredfromCBS. Thank you Fred. As much as I wanted to move away from the subject, there's no point in runnin' away.

It all started with this letter that Fred sent to the Green Party...

"I am writing to let you know that you are making it practically impossible for Stephen Harris (and others) to run fairly in Newfoundland. He recently joined our little political yahoo-group for NL Politics and while he defends the Green Party's plank on seal hunting, it is glaringly obvious to me (a new resident of Conception Bay South, formerly of Ontario following a 25 year military career) that this loose plank in the Green Party's platform will sink her ship out here. Just thought you should know that while more and more people strive for a better global environment, the reality of an entire province, whose population has emigrated to all parts of Canada, and who has been badly treated by the Canadian Federal government for years, will never see eye-to-eye with an uninformed sealing position. Even as a mainlander who has lived in Green Germany and then in Nova Scotia where they at least separate recyclables from garbage, I can't vote Green because of this awkward seal stance..."

To which, (I think) Sharon Labchuck (Atlantic Organizer for the Green Party) replied to with...

Dear Fred Harris:

Thank you for taking the time to write the Green Party of Canada and inquire about our policies.

You have asked about our position on the seal hunt. The Green Party supports the phasing-out of Canada's commercial seal hunt. It is opposed to the culling of seals, and other marine mammals, in an attempt to enhance fisheries.

The Green Party of Canada advocates the development of sustainable economic alternatives for those affected by the closing down of the commercial seal hunt. Nothing in the party's resolution negates traditional aboriginal rights, or those rights guaranteed by the Canadian constitution or a treaty.

If you require more information about the seal hunt, please feel free to contact Sharon Labchuk, our Environment advocate, at slabchuk@... or our Industry advocate, Peter Ellis at peterellis1000@....

For general background information and the 2006 Green Party of Canada platform, please visit www.greenparty.ca. You can also access media releases through the Newsroom, located on the left side of the Home page. The Media Releases section is the first item in the drop-down menu.

The policies of the Green Party of Canada are socially progressive, fiscally responsible and environmentally sustainable. They are founded upon six fundamental principles: ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, non-violence, sustainability, and respect for diversity.

Please note that I have attached the press releases relevant to this topic below.

Thank you once again for taking the time to write us.

Sincerely,
Election Info Centre Assistant
___________________________________

This Article was sent along as well, and I'm glad that it was. It gives a whole new perspective to Jim's visit here.

Press releases:
End federal support for seal hunt
This government-subsidized seal hunt is a chapter in our history that needs to come to a close.
(St. John's, Thursday, 1 December 2005)

It's time to
end federal support for the seal hunt and instead use federal programs to develop sustainable jobs that will bring Newfoundland and Labrador international praise, said Green Party of Canada leader Jim Harris today at a news conference in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Killing seals is an off-season activity for fishers, and profits make up only a tiny fraction of their incomes. When Canada banned whale killing, people discovered whale watching tours were more profitable. Likewise, the Green Party believes seal watching excursions would be better for the economy and the ecology of the East coast," said Harris. "Canada markets itself on wilderness and wildlife. This government-subsidized seal hunt is a chapter in our history that needs to come to a
close."

Most Canadians don't know that the seal hunt is subsidized by their tax dollars. The Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment reports that the federal government provided more than $20 million in subsidies to the sealing industry between 1995 and 2001. Subsidies are used to upgrade and construct seal processing plants, promote the seal hunt abroad, develop new markets for seal products, and fund research into the development of new seal products.

"Cod stocks were depleted by industrial fishing, which was encouraged by the federal government, and not by harp seal herds. Seals are just a convenient scapegoat for a politically-motivated kill," said Harris. "When Europeans first arrived on the East coat there were an estimated 24 million harp seals living in balance with so many fish that their abundance could impede the passage of ships. Today, less than five million harp seals remain, and the cod are gone."

The Green Party defied conventional political wisdom by voicing its opposition to the seal hunt in St. John's, Newfoundland, not far from where the hunt actually takes place. "Standing against the seal hunt, which since 2003 has meant the killing of nearly one million seals, would be easy to do in downtown Toronto," said Harris. "Instead, we are here in St. John's because we believe that voters have the right to know where the Green Party stands - and to present real, sustainable alternatives to the fishers who participate in the hunt."

Harris challenged each leader of the other federal parties to state their party's position on the hunt and to do so in Newfoundland and Labrador, however popular or unpopular their positions may be.

The Green Party supports wildlife conservation and would redirect seal hunt subsidies to help diversify the economy of Atlantic Canada.

Stop federal seal hunt subsidies The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is allowing a cull of 925,000 seals between 2003 and 2006. Despite scientific evidence that such a high quota is unsustainable, the federal government claims that the hunt will not harm seal populations and is necessary to allow collapsed cod stocks to recover. (Montreal, 30 March 2005)-Canada must put an end to federal subsidies that support Canada's annual seal hunt off the East coast and instead redirect these funds to creating real jobs in Atlantic Canada for local fishers, said Green Party of Canada Environment critic, Sharon Labchuk. "Most Canadians don't know that the controversial seal hunt, which opened today, is subsidized by their tax dollars," said Labchuk. The Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment reports that the federal government provided more than $20 million in subsidies to the sealing industry between 1995 and 2001. Subsidies are used to upgrade and construct seal processing plants, promote the seal hunt in Europe and elsewhere, develop new markets for seal products, and fund research into the development of new seal products.

The Green Party supports wildlife conservation and would redirect seal hunt subsidies to help diversify the economy of Atlantic Canada.

"Killing seals is an off-season activity for fishers and profits make up only a tiny fraction of their incomes. When Canada banned whale killing, people discovered whale watching tours were more profitable. Likewise, the Green Party believes seal watching excursions would be better for the economy and the ecology of the East coast," said Labchuk. "Canada markets itself on wilderness and wildlife. This government-subsidized seal slaughter is a shameful chapter in our history that needs to come to a close."

"Cod stocks were depleted by industrial fishing, which was encouraged by the federal government, and not by harp seal herds. Seals are just a convenient scapegoat for a politically-motivated kill," said Labchuk. "When Europeans first arrived on the East coat there were an estimated 24 million harp seals living in balance with so many fish that their abundance could impede the passage of ships. Today, less than 5 million harp seals remain, and the cod are gone. Current seal quotas, not even enforced, are unsustainable and are a threat to the survival of the species. Government scientists predict the seal population will be reduced by a further 30 percent by 2011."

Sincerely,
James
GPC Info-Centre

Fred then posted to the NL-politics Yahoo Group his reply to this email...

Dear Sharon & Peter,

Thank you for your prompt reply. I have Cc'd this response with your reply to my query to my Newfoundland & Labrador Politics (nl-politics) Group. Liam O'Brien is the moderator if you wish to request membership.

As a reletively new Newfoundlander, I found your reply to be informative but I felt that it contained assumptions, coupled with some erroneous fact reporting. So, I went to Google and hit "harp seals north atlantic" and the top two main hits were scientific sites. Both agree quite closely to the news releases that you provided to me. I was very surprised. Numbers that I have heard in the past were much higher and must have included all seal species.

That said, I still think that stating an instant cessation of all seal hunting is Green Party political suicide in the Atlantic Provinces and especially NL. The goal of sealers and DFO is not to wipe out the seals. Creating the same style of sustainability desired for the ground fishery is their goal. Plus, it must be remembered that because we almost eradicated the whales the seals have very few natural predators and require some control. Trying to compare the majesty of whale watching to millions of pounds of fish eating blubber on the ice flows ain't gonna getchya the tourist vote either...

On the other hand, , there is cod and I feel that to protect it we must dismantle every factory freezer, trawling, dragging and netting boat. Remember when shrimp was a treat? It used to be 10 bucks for a shrimp ring! Now they're $2-4 each. Stop foreign fishing and take custodial control; allowing only hand-lines until stocks recover, is the only logical way to repair the damage.

Just my thoughts for now,

FredfromCBS

Anybody got anything to add? Post a comment.


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17 comments:

Fred from CBS said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fred from CBS said...

I had to correct the line spacing format on my original post. The content is unchanged...

Thanks again for a prompt reply! I really appreciate responses. Mr Efford wasn't much for responses if you didn't like his assistant's first one...

Once again I am sharing your response with some others. I am finding your position much more palpable than the way it came across in Jim's visit and the
press releases. Presenting a flexible stance and demonstrating that you are listening rather than "preaching" is very cool. I give you full points and I
will read more from your website.

However, there are a couple of things from your response that still don't sit very well with me. You wrote, "...history shows us..." Yes, it does. It shows all of us, DFO, NAFO, sealers, fishermen, NL, CBC and of course the Green Party. I found it compelling but it also came across as paternalistic. Citing a broad
historical reference and then tacking on, "...that current kill levels are highly unsustainable," draws a conclusion which is not necessarily reflective of what, "history shows us." The monitoring, tagging and scientific guidelines which are strictly adhered to by DFO demonstrates that their information and recommendations drawn from history and current cumulative data is also very compelling.

"While it may be a tough stand to take in Newfoundland, the Green Party position on sealing is an important one - from an animal welfare, conservation
and even an ecosystem preservation perspective, "contradicted your opening to me. Therein lies your biggest faux-pas which I believe compromises your position on sealing in the country. Communicating your intent clearly to NL may get you some votes. The reason I say 'the country' and 'to NL,' is because the emigration of native Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to the rest of Canada looking for sustained employment is larger in numbers than, yes, the harp seal. In my opinion, leaving it as, "Ugg, sealing bad. Sealing must stop," is bad politics even if you believe it to be good policy.

Those are my thoughts for now...

FredfromCBS


--- Rebecca Aldworth raldworth@bellnet.ca wrote:

Hi there,

Thanks for your thoughtful email on the Green Party seal policy.

You raise a number of important points, and I hope it is okay if I respond to some of them. I have worked on the commercial seal hunt issue for nearly ten years, and I currently provide animal welfare advice to the Green Party.

First of all, the Green Party position does not call for an instant ban on seal hunting in the Atlantic Provinces. Rather, it advocates a slow phasing out of commercial (industrial scale) hunting of seals over a number of years, in favour of development of better economic alternatives. Moreover, it allows 'personal use' (subsistence) hunting of seals to continue.

While it may not be the goal of DFO and sealers to wipe out the seals, history shows us that current kill levels are highly unsustainable. Nearly one million harp seals have been killed over the past three years - the last time this many were killed, back in the 1950s and 60s, the harp seal population was reduced by nearly two thirds. Marine mammals are particularly threatened by commercial hunts (this is why so many whale and seal populations are extirpated or endangered). First, they usually give birth to only one offspring per year. Second, their populations are very hard to count (the Canadian harp seal estimate is given in a range of more than 2 million). Third, marine mammals are particularly vulnerable to environmental factors such as pollution or natural disasters. Because of these factors, marine mammal populations can go from slight declines to radical ones in a very short amount of time. Often, by the time we realize the problem, it is too late to salvage it. And that is why in the United States it is illegal to kill any marine mammal or trade in their
products.

While some seal predator populations have declined, harp seals still have a host of natural predators - from sharks to polar bears. And harp seals are very adaptive to their environments - when food sources run low, fertility rates decline. Nature keeps the population at optimum levels without human interference.

Moreover, the ice breading harp seals are now vulnerable to a new environmental threat - climate change. Over the past thirty years, ice cover in the northwest Atlantic has steadily declined. The result is that ice sometimes doesn't form at all in areas (such as the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2002) and pregnant seals abort in the water. Or the ice melts before the pups are old enough to swim - and then we get reports of thousands of dead infant seals washing up on Newfoundland beaches (such as the past two years).

While it may be a tough stand to take in Newfoundland, the Green Party position on sealing is an important one - from an animal welfare, conservation and even an ecosystem preservation perspective.

Please visit www.fisherycrisis.com to see the many reasons why killing seals poses a real risk to fish stock recovery off Canada's east coast. The website is run by the Nova Scotia Grey Seal Conservation Society.

On a final note, I have to disagree on your take on seals and tourism. The fact is, the harp seal nursery that forms off the east coast of Canada each year is considered to be one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth. I have personally seen it seven times, and it is literally life changing. I'm not alone in this. Tourists from all over the world pay thousands of dollars to witness it each and every year in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where there is now a thriving ecotourism industry that contributes significantly to the local economy.

While I'm not suggesting ecotourim as a replacement for the sealing industry, it does have the potential to bring revenue into the province as a whole.

I hope that helps, and please feel free to contact me at any time for more information.

Sincerely,

Rebecca

Jonny From Town said...

I am glad that the series of events leading up to now have shined some light on the sealing issue during the election season.

While reading the posts on this blog I noticed in the remarks made by the Party's enviromental advocate that "real jobs" should be given to fishers in place of the seal hunt.

I understand the context was with good intentions, but when dealing with people's livelihoods and such a touchy subject, perhaps it would be best for the Party's advisor to chose their words more carefully.

Jonny from Town said...

Here's the quote:

Canada must put an end to federal subsidies that support Canada's annual seal hunt off the East coast and instead redirect these funds to creating real jobs in Atlantic Canada for local fishers, said Green Party of Canada Environment critic, Sharon Labchuk."

Just a thought.

Stephen Eli Harris said...

I agree, it would have been much more effective is they had said "creating year long sustainable alternatives", which is essentially what they mean't.

Thanks Fred for posting the progress of these emails. It's appreciated!

Anonymous said...

The reason I will be voting for the Green Party is because I totally disagree with the seal slaughter.

Newfoundland is known world wide only because of the annual seal slaughter. It is not known because of its beauty or its people.

Fred from CBS said...

When people post controversial comments anonymously, I give them absolutely ZERO merit.

I stand behind what I write and stand corrected when an error in my logic is proven to me but I will not accept anonymity in debate and informational exchange when it reflects topics of such importance.

To insinuate that the Americans and other world travelers who were extended warm hospitality here in NL, during crisis situations, is offensive.

I must say that the gratuitous comment that egged me on to this comment was posted by someone who only wishes to antagonize through false bravado and an underserved pious posturing. Step up and sign your name or stick to the Soap Opera blogs.

My motto is: If anonymous attack the writer; if signed but controversial attack the content; if the content is good, move on!

Hugs n'Kisses

Fred Harris

NL-ExPatriate said...

Nice to see a sensible debate on the seal hunt for a change.

I would just like to point out your false hoods with reference to the seal hunt being subsidized by the Canadian government.

"Myth #11: The Canadian government provides subsidies for the seal hunt.

Reality: The Government of Canada does not subsidize the seal hunt. Sealing is an economically viable industry. All subsidies ceased in 2001. Even before that time, any subsidies provided were for market and product development, including a meat subsidy, to encourage full use of the seal. In fact, government has provided fewer subsidies to the sealing industry than recommended by the Royal Commission on Sealing."

http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/seal-phoque/myth_e.htm

As much as I don't have any time for DFO I don't think they are liers or twisters of the truth. Not to say you are but from reading the Myths and Realities with refereence to the Seal hunt on DFO's site, I think you may need to inform yourself some more before making policy which affects an entire region of this country.

Personally I have some reservations about the seal hunt and the way to rectify them isn't to ban the COMMERCIAL seal hunt all together IMHO.

Killing only mature seals and mainly male if at all feasible. Similar to what goes on in other wild game hunts.

Utilize all of the seal. Even if it is to make animal or fish food for Aquaculture, animal breeding, or domesticated animal food. I would love to have an option of buying seal derived dog or cat food.

Maybe even dhydrate or turn seal meat into preserves to be stock piled in case of famine or disaster.

Stephen Eli Harris said...

You know something, the more I read about this seal hunt in search for the truth behind the matter, the more against it I'm becomming... not that I'm against it at all, at this point.

As a Newfoundland and Labradorian, I see the side of how important it is to our province (well, how important we think it is anyway) and I see the pride behind it.

As a human, seeing the pictures, reading the articles and finding out the facts I realize that the industry is a brutal one, no doubt about that. Not only that, the main reason behind the annual slaughtering is to make clothes, often designer bought by weathly people. That, or tourists. This isn't right to me.

Read this article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/sealhunt/

It's pretty informative, though it's not why I'm talking about this today. I'm writing this because I have a battle brewing within myself and it builds every day.

As a Newfoundland a Labradorian, I'm all for the hunt because of it's importance and link to our history... however, do I really want the world to remember Newfoundland and Labrador this way? I mean, people kicked up a stink over "The Shipping News" and how it portrayed our people as being somewhat savage. Why aren't people more ticked at the seal hunt and how it portrays our people? That's what I don't understand.

Yes, there is a way to find common ground on this, like everything. Our people can still are respected even if the annual destruction of a million seals comes to an end. Not only that, our people are strong enough to move on. We're incredibly talented people and if only we gave communities a change to diversify, they would realize we dont' have to depend on one industry to sustain ourselves.

So... the battle wages on inside. The dreams I now have of bruatal killing of a co-habitant of this earth refuses to let me sleep. It's tough. It really is but, please know that I will not sign any petitions to end the seal hunt however, I certainly am becomming more aware of it... both sides of it.

Stephen
http://newfoundlandgreenparty.blogspot.com

NL-ExPatriate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
NL-ExPatriate said...

Deleted because of errors
Stephen Said
"annual destruction of a million seals comes to an end."

The Quota to my knowledge is somewhere in the range of 300,000 to 400,000 over three years. Taken from a population of 9,000,000 million combined of Harp and Hood seals.

I really don't want to research this again for you because I really don't think you will believe anything that doesn't come from a ARA group.

As for the fashion thing. Let me tell you from having lived and worked outside in some of the coldest climates on this planet I would rather have a pair of seal skin shuks any day compaired to a nylon pair. Same goes for Parka hoods.

There is absolutely no reason that the seal hunt can't be a sustainable industry. And No reason for it to be stopped other than fund raising for some Animal Rights Groups. Why else do you think they are so out to lunch they don't want to see a compromise made that would mean they would lose their number one fund raiser. Then there are the actors who will do anything to get free publicity because that is what it is all about for them. I know I pigeon holing here but for the vast majority that is the case.
http://freenewfoundlandlabrador.blogspot.com/2005/10/paul-watson-and-sea-shepherd-society.html
http://freenewfoundlandlabrador.blogspot.com/2005/09/what-motivates-seal-hunt-protest.html

Try reading some of these sites.
http://canadianveterinarians.net/
http://images.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://www.posh-uk.org.uk/meat/images/slaughter3.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.posh-uk.org.uk/meat/&h=202&w=280&sz=15&tbnid=eYfuxNV6tzsJ:&tbnh=78&tbnw=109&hl=en&start=1&prev=/images%3Fq%3Danimal%2Bslaughter%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26safe%3Doff%26sa%3DN
http://www.grandin.com/humane/restrain.slaughter.html
http://www.petatv.com/tvpopup/video.asp?video=meet_your_meat&Player=wm&speed=_med
http://www.rrrina.com/
http://www.petatv.com/tvpopup/video.asp?video=cromwell_psa&Player=wm&speed=_med
http://www.vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/issues_factoryfarming_pictures.html
http://www.furcommission.com/news/newsC7.htm
http://brianoconnor.typepad.com/animal_crackers/2005/10/sea_shepherd_co.html
http://www.activistcash.com/organization_overview.cfm/oid/131
http://www.vare.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=30&Itemid=2
http://www.guidestar.org/
http://www.activistcash.com/organization_overview.cfm/oid/347
http://futurepositive.synearth.net/2002/06/04
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4426421,00.html
http://www.highnorth.no/Library/Movements/Sea_Shepherd/pa-wa-ar.htm
http://www.highnorth.no/Library/Movements/Sea_Shepherd/pa-wa-re.htm
http://www.icrwhale.org/eng/history.pdf
http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2005/11/20/film-sealing051120.html
http://www.nfb.ca/trouverunfilm/fichefilm.php?id=51455&v=h&lg=en&exp=
http://responsiblegovernmentleague.blogspot.com/2005/04/sea-shepherd-whackos-just-helped-seal.html
http://www.brandonsun.com/story.php?story_id=12992
http://www.ccfassociation.org/moore28jan05.htm
http://www.ffaw.nf.ca/IssueDetails.asp?id=5
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2005-10-02-sea-lion-ruckus_x.htm
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20050928-9999-7m18beach.html
http://www.nunatsiaq.com/news/nunavut/60113_02.html

Stephen Eli Harris said...

Thanks for the links NL. When I move this site over to the NLgreenparty site, I'll be sure to place the links in the top post and not just in the comments.

Now, back to the reading...

Stephen
http://newfoundlandgreenparty.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Yes, the stance the greens are taking on the seals will see that they never get elected. I raise this question. What about the cod fish? Where do they stand in the greens ideas on a harmonized mother earth? Why are you not fighting for the existance of the codfish. Is it because there are no gruesome pictures of the Cod being slaughtered? What about cows,chickens, moose?
Where will it end with your party? If the greens are so in to a balance on earth between people and animals well we have to maintain a balance throughout an ecosystem. We take fish, Seals take fish. Fish are gone for good, then seals die off due to lack of food or they adapt by changing their diet, just as we would, then another species is gone. Where does it end? Control is the key. Control whaling, sealing, fishing so that there is a balanced ecosystem. Now there is an imbalance, fewer whales that eat seals, more seals that eat fish, less fish than is needed all in the ecosystem. Anwser,stop whaling, increse sealing cut out offshore gragging for fish. Let the system become balanced, then maintain that balance.

Thanks
D.W. Harris

Stephen Eli Harris said...

What' you're saying is exactly what the Greens are saying... except the increase of seal slaughtering. You see, there is scientific proof that killing off all the seals is not going to do anything to rejuvenate the Cod stocks. Why? Because seals eat other preditors of codfish as well. These animals have already found harmony within themselves. It's just man who did not fit into the ecosystem wisely.

Stephen
http://newfoundlandgreenparty.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

So is it the greens intention that man should not eat meat, fish poultry? We've done that for ages. The problem now is the commercial side of it is not managed to protect species. Cut out the offshore foriegn overfishing, go with newfoundlanders catching fish off newfoundland. Lower the seal population until there is a balance. As for the other predators of cod, deplete them as well to enhance the cod stock. After all cod are endangered,seals are not.

DW Harris

Stephen Eli Harris said...

Of course our intentions are not for man to not eat the food we love. It's exactly the opposite; we want to ensure the food we love is around for our children and grandchildren to love it as well.

Yes, we have to stop the overfishing. Yes, we have to get the fisheries out of the hands of multinational corporations and back into the hands of fisherman. Yes. This is exactly what we're saying.

Killing all the preditors of cod will do nothing to help the cod population balance out. You cannot sacrifice one species to further another. What is needed is a strong ecosystem for these species to co-exist and safe sustainable fishing practices for us to coexist with them.

Stephen
http://newfoundlandgreenparty.blogspot.com

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