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The Atlantic Seal Hunt Essay

As a Newfoundlander I strive to hold on to every bit of our culture and history we have left. Newfoundlanders have always been known for their hard work and dedication. We’ve found work in several areas, as the island we live on has given to us. The fishery, Pulp and Paper, and more recently oil and gas. Something we’ve always been part of is the Canadian Seal Hunt. Which takes place off the “Gulf” areas around the Magdalen Islands and Prince Edward Island.

The main hunt on the so-called “front” usually begins in April off the east coast of Newfoundland. FAQs: The Atlantic seal hunt, 2009) I am in support of the Canadian Seal Hunt, It’s something that has been a part of our history for years, and it helps many Newfoundlanders find the employment they need to sustain everyday life. The Canadian Seal Hunt benefits Canadian’s in countless ways, by providing employment for many Atlantic Canadians and by also putting money back into the economy. The federal government has said that the value of the seals has exceeded $16. 5 million in the year 2005.

It has also provided a “significant” source of income for thousands of sealers, which has benefited their families at a time when other fishing options were unavailable, or limited at best. (FAQS: The Atlantic seal hunt, 2009). This “Significant” source of income for thousands of sealers is how many of their families got by, how their children could afford their education, how they could sustain a normal life. Not only is it money in the sealers pockets it’s money in the Canadian economy.

All the extra income the sealers are making is being taxed, and these tax dollars are going into resources Canadian’s use everyday, like health care and transportation. Canadians are not only benefiting from the seals in this way. The seals are used for primarily food, fuel and clothing. However beyond that seals are also used for leathers, oil, handicrafts, meat for humans and animals consumption, as well as seal oil capsules that are rich in Omega-3, there is also new research into the use of harp seals heart valves in human heart surgery. (Canadian Seal Harvest – Myths and Realities, 2011).

No matter what, every Canadian has benefited from the seal hunt in one-way or another. Besides the impact on Canadians the Seal Hunt brings it has a special impact on Atlantic Canadians, and Newfoundlanders especially. July 2, 1992 the government of Newfoundland imposed a moratorium on the Northern Cod fishery. This left 30, 000 Newfoundlanders out of work. Fish plants closed, boats remained docked, and hundreds of coastal communities that had depended on the fishery for generations watched their economic and cultural mainstay disappear overnight.

This moratorium was brought on because of decades of over fishing virtually making the Atlantic Cod obsolete. (Economic Impacts of the Cod Moratorium, 2000). The definition of moratorium means the temporary prohibition of an activity. Since 1992 Newfoundlanders have been waiting for the day that the moratorium will be lifted and we can have the fishery back to being a thriving part of our economy. However many feel they are waiting for a day that may never come.

Scientist have suggested that there is a link between the rapidly population growth of the grey seals and the declining population of the Atlantic Cod. Over the last 30 years, the grey seal population off the coast of Atlantic Canada has grown rapidly – from 30,000 in the 1970s to over 350,000 today and it continues to grow. (Canadian Seal Harvest – Myths and Realities, 2011). Seals primarily eat Cod and other fish; by keeping the population of seals down they are then helping the population of the Atlantic Cod to grow.

There is an overabundance of seals, by the government setting a quota and people following that they ensure that there will still be a thriving population of seals. (FAQS: The Atlantic seal hunt, 2009). The benefits for Newfoundlanders from the seal hunt are unconceivable; it helps our province become economically stable and our unemployment rates go down. Most importantly with the population control of seal, it would hopefully one day lead to the day where the moratorium is lifted. People have very strong feelings towards the seal hunt.

It is one of the most controversial topics in Canada. Many foundations like Greenpeace and Sea Shepard Conservation Society have been fighting the seal hunt in Canada for years. Claiming it’s “inhuman”. People like Paul McCartney and Heather Mills come to Canada and lay down on the ice with a few baby white coats and tug at your heartstrings trying to convince the world that the seal hunt is killing these baby seals. That is however incorrect, Canada outlawed the killing of white coats in 1987.

Another fight that they have is that the club or the “hakapik” which is a tool used for killing seals, is a inhuman and has no place in todays world. Yet again this is another incorrect argument. Veterinarians have found that the hakapik, when properly used, is at least as humane as, and often more humane than, the killing methods used in commercial slaughterhouses, which are accepted by the majority of the public. (Canadian Seal Harvest – Myths and Realities, 2011). One more fight they also claim is that Canada’s harvesting methods are more inhuman compared to other countries.

However this is again incorrect Canada’s harvesting methods are among the best in the world, the Canadian Government takes the seal hunt very seriously and monitors its harvest very closely to ensure that all the regulations are carried out fully. (Canadian Seal Harvest – Myths and Realities, 2011). In conclusion, I find that there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the seal hunt. I am also aware that not everyone is going to feel the same way as me about it. I feel that something that provides so much economic support for Atlantic Canadians is very important to keep.


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