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.