Thursday, January 05, 2006

My Own Positon on the Seal Hunt, by Mark Brennan

My own position on the seal hunt.
Well I may as well wade into this endless issue to clear the air. My own position on the seal hunt it this. Firstly, I appreciate that Newfoundlanders have traditionally hunted seals for well over a hundred years. I realise it is a huge part of the culture. Lets get one thing out of the way. I hunt, yes kill, for food. And I fish for food also. So you could say that I am not opposed to the killing of wild animals for food purposes. My wife’s family have been farmers for more than six generations here in Nova Scotia, and I worked on a Scottish sheep farm as a young lad of 14. I have raised pigs and chickens and butchered them myself also. So do I oppose the killing of seals? There are two answers to this question. On the grounds of killing seals for food, I am absolutely not against this. Some killing is needed for any of us to live. Animal rights groups would perhaps have a different argument here.

Now I am not going to pretend I don’t get emotional when I watch an animal die. Of course I do. But I try to maintain a close relationship to nature so that I always feel a sadness when I kill for food. Feeling this closeness helps me to understand that I am also a part of this incredible planet and I should indeed also help protect it.

On the issue of industrial sealing. Yes I am opposed to the killing of thousands of Seals to be sold in foreign markets. Seals are marine mammals and are a vital part of the marine eco-system world wide. The fishery off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia is in serious decline through the introduction of huge draggers and over fishing. It is time to begin to at least attempt to re-establish these healthy eco-systems to ensure future integrity. This would mean an end to the commercial seal hunt as well as other steps like establishing large marine protected areas.
I have spent some time with Newfoundlanders who have family that have been in the annual seal hunt for years. I respect them and have been a ‘patron’ of their kindness on more than one occasion. So for me it’s not so much an emotional issue. Snowshoe Hares are ripped apart daily by Great Horned Owls, Elk are killed by Wolves, and that is my argument. I am interested in preserving this natural balance. In ensuring that all these predator/prey relationships continue for thousands more years. Instead in these times we are slowly seeing the demise of the oceans species. From the Great Whales to the Turtles and countless other species, all are declining because of humans. What I oppose is humans seeing ‘wild nature’ as a commodity to profit from. If this type of thinking continues we WILL fish the oceans to extinction. There will be no fish for any of us to catch, only a tiny remnant of a once thriving ocean.

We see declines in African mammals through the ‘bush meat’ trade, the Japanese fishermen kill thousands of Dolphins each year and Norway and Japan are hell bent on a continuation of whaling. Thousands of sea birds and Sharks are killed by drift nets, the Nova Scotian mainland Moose is now endangered, in 100 years the Polar Bear will be gone, the list goes on and on. What kind of planet are we leaving behind? It’s time for all of us to change our relationship to the earth, to understand that there really are no jobs on a dead planet.


Fancy said...

The Green Party has a blog website? Now I have seen everything.

Stephen Eli Harris said...

Yup, we have a blog. Many Greens do. And we a website for the Green Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well:

I'm sure you've see the Green Party of Canada's website right? if ya haven't. Check it out.

ISDABY said...

Mark, two questions: 1) how do you justify opposition to the seal hunt on conservation grounds when hte seal herd is growing, in spite of the large commercial hunt? 2) if your concerns are conservational, not AR, what is your position and the party position on killing method? do you/yee contend that seal clubbing is 'cruel' and therefore seal hunt should be stopped?

Mark Antony said...

some answers for isdaby

1) how do you justify opposition to the seal hunt on conservation grounds when the seal herd is growing, in spite of the large commercial hunt?

Why should the seal heard not grow? Isn’t that a natural progression of any species? Seals are predators. Human populations grow also. I would like to direct you to this page: And also this page which is about a proposed grey seal hunt here in NS. Again, very interesting science.

2) if your concerns are conservational, not AR, what is your position on the party position on killing method? do you contend that seal clubbing is 'cruel' and therefore seal hunt should be stopped?

For myself, I have killed many mammals to eat and feed my family. Mostly by shooting. I have also killed chickens in a similar way to the way seals are killed. So really I am also ‘guilty’ of ‘cruelty’ also. But I have to confess I haven’t shot a newborn Whitetail. Could I? Perhaps I could if I were hungry enough, but could I club it to death, NO. I think the painlessness of clubbing any animal is up for serious debate. To kill any animal with a central nervous system this way has to cause pain. I would never think of clubbing my Beagle to death if it were sick. There has to be some sense of compassion for all species, especially if we are going to kill them for food. So yes, kill seals for food, but do It in such a way that it is painless, like a well aimed shot to the head rather than a swung hakipik.

Hope this answers your questions


NL-ExPatriate said...

What planet are you from?
Death being painless has to be one of the most oxymoronic statements of all time.
I suppose ripping a chickens head of and then watching it run around headless would mean it's still in pain even though it no longer has a brain from which to receive the pain transmissions?

The Killing of seals by clubbing only accounts for 10-20% of the hunt nowwa days not exactly sure here why the 10-20%.
The majority of seals are killed using high power rifles or Slugs and shot guns.
The thing you have to remember is that seals are on the water and the boat from which they are shot is on the water and the water is moving with only the head of the seal poking out from the waves. I would contend more seals suffer by shooting them than will ever suffer by using a hakapik.

Maybe you should get your AR's priorities right try watching this.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am writing to let you know that I am behind you all the way and completely feel the worlds necessity to WAKE UP and understand what it is we are facing on a global scale, instead of just seeing what is going on out back, in our own lives. In truth we are not really even seeing that anymore. I have researched the seal hunt and fishery decline from 1979 and read both arguments. The arguments for the hunt I am afraid will lead to the exact same place we are with the cod and other species, it only stands to common sense and reason. I believe, those who are for it can not see the truth with the seal because of many reasons and they do not remember the numbers prior to 1984, apparently. Not only that, but they do not take into consideration that the loss of other large marine predators in the area will cause a slight increase in seal populations and the populations of small prey also. Making for weaker prey, without predation the weak are not culled out. The weak are allowed to be weaker and the strong become weak. (effects of lost predation in our ecosystem in entirety) We need to work to re-establish that "balance" you wrote about. It will be hard enough for the seal to survive because of the effects of warming and melting ice, without this added stress to the species. Together as a whole we can do this, but we have to change the way we think and feel or the next step will be human predation toward weak human, simply put there will not be anything else left for us to hunt. Humans are multiplying, the reason, our only true predators are each other and for right now we seem to be semi sane. Some say, why should we care? We had a life and a chance? We will be dead by then. Our great grandchildren deserve the same and others that will inherit what we leave. We need to think, on this road sometime in the future our children will tell our grandchildren about the mess we left the world in and did not even try to reverse it. At best it makes us look stupid and heartless to those who come after us.

Another problem I am having is in the products outside of the fur issue, the toxins located in the seal are higher than Canada permits and the aboriginals eat it and a lot of it. I think it should be considered a crime for a country to allow someone to eat something that is harmful due to toxins without warning them. For years the DFO has been telling people not to eat much of the fish, what about the seal? Is it not time for a warning label on it also? Especially for those Aboriginals, but also include those outside of the hunt that may purchase these products and not know.

Bless you and keep up the good,

Anonymous said...


That is not even a word. However, the sealfishery website wins as a bigger oxymoron or moronic word in my book, after all, seal are not fish.

It's more effective to be nice and intelligible to remain calm.