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Slaughtering Seals As a Precautionary Approach

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Stakeholders Hold Different Views

The complete report tells a broader story. When the fisheries were shut down, people assumed stocks would recover more quickly than they have. However, surveys by Fisheries and Oceans Canada have given little reason to hope a full-fledged fishing industry can operate in eastern Canada any time soon. That is hard news in a region where fishing is more than a way to make a living. It is a way of life.

So the FRCC encountered strong and differing opinions when they held open consultations. Section 4, which summarizes those consultations, is particularly fascinating. The brief text reveals disagreements among industry, non-industry and Aboriginal participants. Having participated in many community consultations, I recognized the tension in this paragraph:

“Some non-industry presentations called for more areas to be closed to fishing while many in the industry doubted the value of closed areas other than in special cases, such as the protection of sponges and corals.”

Killing Tens of Thousands of Seals As an Experiment

Since the purpose of the FRCC’s process was to develop recommendations for reviving fisheries, they clearly felt a need to propose something that could be acted on quickly. So while the report calls for an ecosystem science approach to rebuilding stock and developing management plans, it also tosses a fish to those who blame seals for the industry’s sluggish recovery: a massive seal cull.

This is not the first report to call for reducing seal populations. In 2007, the Gulf Groundfish Advisory Committee published its report on seal predation. The committee pointed out three problems with seals: predation, parasites and damage.

Seals eat groundfish so fishers understandably resent the competition for their catch. Grey seals carry a heavy load of seal worms. (So do harbour, grey and hooded seals, though to a lesser extent.) The worms infect groundfish and cost processors millions of dollars annually. Seals also damage fishing gear. Fish trapped in nets are irresistible to seals attracted by the plentiful meal. All of these factors led the committee to call for a 50% reduction in the seal population in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Sable Island.

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Photo from Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel, Second Photo from Sam Beebe, Third Photo from bikehikedive (nugun) via Flickr Creative Commons

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159 comments

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10:30AM PST on Nov 11, 2013

Leave the fish for the inhabitants of the sea - end of

12:48PM PDT on Mar 18, 2013

The small catches and depletion of fish is caused by overfishing which in turn is caused by human overpopulation. The Canadians are hollering that the seals are eating all of "their" fish as an excuse to kill seals. The Japanese are doing the same thing with whales and dolphins: Japan is getting very small catches due to overfishing/overpopulation but are blaming it on the "greedy" whales and dolphins eating all of "their" fish. Birth control bitches, birth control! There are just so many humans on this planet that the species we use for food cannot keep up with us because we are far outbreeding them. Blaming other species for the overconsumption of the fish is disingenuous and will not solve the problem. There are not too many seals or whales or dolphins; there are way too many of US, and until that problem is fixed, the puny fish catches will remain a problem, seals or no seals.

7:13AM PDT on Mar 18, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

11:09AM PST on Jan 1, 2013

Canada needs to wake up and stop this erroneous approach to the depletion of cod. Stop killing the seals and find a better way to restore the cod.

8:58PM PST on Nov 30, 2012

Canada is far behind when it comes to taking compassionate decisions on behalf of the Planet earth. Massive slaughter of seals in eastern coast lines have given Canada the name of one of the Cruelest Governing country in the world. No sympathy for the environement or the Animals, sea or land creatures. Canadians governing parties need to be educated in most of the current issues in respect of the Planet and it's inhibitants. This is 21st century. PM need to wake up and change the olden days brutal practises by culling innocent animals and need to introduce new laws to protect the seals in the east coasts. Shame on Canada for the way they massacre such defenceless animals in such brutal and Barbaric ways. Don't buy any products made in Canada which involvs body part from those majestic seals.

12:15AM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

Excuse me but let's not forget that the seals home is the sea. It provides for their every need. It is not them who plunder the oceans but us who in fact don't even have the right to be there. We live on land and these **************** people are tooo lazy to plant vegetables and fruit trees.
Canadians you are already thought of as a disgusting country for not protecting the seals - get up off your lazy bums and get planting!!!

10:23AM PST on Dec 13, 2011

Drastic reduction in Human Overpopulation is the only answer to this ecological ,conservational and environmental collapse.

We are living much, much longer and we breed much,much more. Plus, the mortality rates are lower.Human population is increasing now at exponential rates, world population has doubled since 1970.

5:24PM PST on Nov 28, 2011

The seals used to be controlled by the orcas (killer whales). We put the killer whales in Zoos. The seal population exploded here on the Pacific...parasites exploded in the bottom fish...parasites moving through the food chain. Over fishing of herring for the roe. So called excess roe that broke loose and ended up high on the beach, rotted, and with each high tide went back to sea as fertilizer, caused the seaweeds to flourish...hidey holes for juvenile fishes and returning adult salmon. Now we have a salmon problem, fewer and stunted seaweeds and the seal invading the tidal part of the rivers with impunity and the salmon in trouble, herring in trouble, orcas in trouble, seaweeds in trouble, and damn if I'll eat sushi again. It's kind of freaky finding a fish tapeworm hanging out your ass about a foot after your morning constitutinal!

4:19PM PST on Nov 28, 2011

I am out of words. So how it was going for centuries when there were more seals and the fishes did not perished? How all the species used to survive one next to the other? May be because ther were less humans on this crowdy earth.

11:21AM PST on Nov 25, 2011

My question, or one of them anyway, is why isn't there more publicity on this type of horrible, unecessary massacre? Seals slaughtered, dolphins murdered, horses cruelly rounded up & put into horrific "holding facilities", wolves & pups being shot and/or gassed, and most of this conducted by our federal government, with the apparent approval of our President! Why isn't the public irate over these horrible, cruel acts? They aren't being committed by one or two people, but acts committed regularly with the full approval of, or by, government officials. Has humanity reached it's lowest level? I can't even imagine how things can get much worse.

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