Fisheries and Aquaculture
March 20, 2008

Province Alarmed by PETA 2 Attack on Canadian Sealers

The Provincial Government is alarmed by a new anti-sealing video which is being distributed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) 2, in Germany. The Honourable Tom Rideout, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, expressed his disappointment and concern that this group would draw such a vile comparison to the Canadian sealing industry, which includes one of the most well-managed harvests anywhere in the world.

The video compares the harvesting of seals to the violent physical abuse of a human.

"We are now witnessing a new low on the part of anti-sealing organizations," said Minister Rideout. "We in Newfoundland and Labrador have become accustomed to the misinformation and inaccurate depictions of the seal harvest that are presented around this time every year. However, this particular attack is the most vile that I have ever seen myself in my almost 30 years in public life. It is completely indecent for this group of people, who have likely never even visited our province, to present such a disturbing depiction of sealers."

"It is ironic that this group, which is making such an unethical attack, has the word ethical in its name," said the minister. "Their ethics are certainly nowhere to be seen in this approach to addressing their concerns with the Canadian sealing industry. It is also ironic that this attack is coming from Germany where there is a harvest of wild animals including the hunt of 1.2 million deer and over 500,000 wild boars per year."

The seal harvest off the east coast of Canada is based on sound scientific evidence which shows healthy populations. The harvest is conducted in a very humane manner with a great deal of scrutiny and regulation. The commercial harvesting of seals is more tightly regulated today than ever before in history. It has been observed by independent veterinarians and their recommendations have been adopted to further ensure the humaneness of the harvest.

"I am also concerned that an organization such as MTV would be associated with such a piece of propaganda," said the minister. "It is disturbing that the mainstream global entertainment industry is so unaware of the facts of the seal harvest and the groups that oppose it, that they would even consider playing such a video. While we in this province are all for freedom of expression, there has to be some consideration of the facts and accuracy."

Anti-sealing groups display a complete lack of understanding of the economic and cultural realities of the sealing industry. Ignoring the facts of the modern harvest, anti-sealing groups continue to spread misleading propaganda in an effort to raise exorbitant amounts of money. Anti-sealing campaigns are extremely lucrative for certain animal rights groups and this has in fact become an industry itself.

"It is unfortunate that these groups pass judgment on the individuals who are participating in this well-regulated industry to sustain their lives, put food on their table and clothes on their children’s backs," said Minister Rideout.

The seal harvest generates approximately $30 million for the provincial economy, including secondary industries such as the processing of seal pelts and the production of seal meat products and seal oil capsules. Some sealers have stated that their income from sealing can represent from 25-35 per cent of their total income. Furthermore, a number of health benefits have been associated with the use of seal oil capsules.

In each of the last two provincial budgets, the Williams Government has allocated $100,000 annually to address misinformation on the sealing industry generated globally by the anti-sealing lobby.

The Provincial Government supports ensuring the continuation of a healthy seal population for the future sustainability of this valuable resource. Based on a 2004 survey, the estimated total population is now approximately 5.5 million harp seals.

"Our government will continue to work with the sealing industry and other governments to convey our message that sealing is a humane, economically viable and culturally important industry to the people of this province. We will provide information to all those who are interested in hearing the facts on the industry. We will not stand by and see the people of this province be vilified for making a living from a sustainable resource, in a humane manner," said Minister Rideout.


Media contact:

Lori Lee Oates
Director of Communications
Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
709-729-3733, 690-8403

2008 03 20                                                     9:20 a.m.


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