Executive Council
January 31, 2007

Premier Speaks with European Journalists Regarding Sealing Industry 

The Provincial Government is committed to educating international audiences on the facts of the seal harvest in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Today, the Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, spoke with a group of European journalists who have traveled to Canada to gain more information on the country�s sealing industry. 

�It was a very useful and productive session during which I conveyed the facts surrounding the seal harvest, and also dispelled many of the myths,� said Premier Williams.  �Among the many points raised, I reinforced that the seal harvest provides vitally important employment opportunities in our rural coastal communities.  I also explained some of the challenges we have in dealing with the misinformation put into the public domain by certain animal activist organizations.  The journalists were very open to what I had to say, I am hopeful that they left the meeting more educated and knowledgeable about our seal harvest.� 

During their time in the province, the journalists visited Twillingate as a representative sealing community, spoke with sealers and sealing industry representatives and received information from scientists and government officials, in addition to the meeting with the Premier.  In total, nine journalists visited the province from Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain and the United Kingdom. 

�I am very proud to speak out on behalf of the seal industry, and I told the journalists today that I wear my seal coat with great pride and I also use seal oil capsules daily,� added the Premier.  �The journalists were aware of my appearance on Larry King Live last year, which speaks to the tremendous importance of getting our message out to an international audience.  I conveyed the same messages that I communicated last year during that interview, that the sealing harvest has played a critical role in the evolution of many of our coastal communities in this province.  It is a humane harvest and there are no conservation issues.  I also reminded them that many of our fishers rely upon the industry for a living.� 

Many sealers report that their income from sealing can represent from 25 to 30 per cent of the total annual income.  In 2006, the seal harvest was valued at approximately $30 million in landed value and contributed approximately $55 million to the province�s Gross Domestic Product.  Premier Williams said, �This is important income that enables many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to remain in their home communities, and it is time for the international community to start dealing with the facts and not just sensationalism.� 

The Canadian sealing industry remains one of the best managed harvests of wild animals in the world, with federal government regulations to ensure that the seal harvest is sustainable and humane.  Enforcement activities are carried out from the air, on the water and on land. 

�Our government supports the sealing industry and we are committed to its further development,� said the Premier.  �We support a sustainable harvest based on solid science, full utilization of the animal and humane harvesting methods.� 

The Provincial Government continues to work with Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Marine Institute on the development of seal meat products.  Seal oil has also become a major component of the sealing industry in the province.  The health benefits of omega 3 oil are increasingly being recognized and this knowledge is creating new markets for seal oil products.  

�Our government was pleased to work with the federal government and sealing industry to facilitate this visit by the European journalists,� said the Premier.  �It is our priority to ensure that the facts of this industry are effectively communicated to international audiences.  We were extremely pleased to have the opportunity to provide that information and I want to thank these journalists for providing us with that opportunity.� 


Media contact:
Elizabeth Matthews
Director of Communications
Office of the Premier
709-729-3960, 351-1227

2007 01 31                                                        3:35 p.m.

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