Money is rarely a moral justification, even for bludgeoning cute animals  »

The Canadian government comes up with a variety of ways to justify the seal slaughter but the one I’ve been thinking about lately is economic. From the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada: “Seals are a valuable natural resource, and the seal harvest is an economic mainstay for numerous rural communities in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the North. As a time-honoured tradition, Canada’s seal harvest supports many coastal families who can derive as much as 35 percent of their annual income from this practice.” Already there you can see the language is a bit funny; the hunt “supports many coastal families” instead of something like “communities” or any reference to a large number of people. Then it also says these families “can derive as much as 35 percent of their annual income” from the hunt, so it’s also possible they derive 0 percent of their income from the hunt. Basically, they’ve said nothing. Nice one, G-men, you totally had me.

Regardless of how the Canadian government words it, those opposed to the seal hunt say the seal hunt is not an economic necessity. From the Humane Society: “Sealing is an off-season activity conducted by fishermen from Canada’s East Coast. They make, on average, 1/20th of their incomes from seal hunting and the rest from commercial fisheries. Even in Newfoundland, where most sealers live, income from the hunt accounts for less than 1 percent of the province’s economy and less than 2 percent of the landed value of the fishery. According to the Newfoundland government, out of a population of half a million people,¬†fewer than 6,000 fishermen participate in the seal hunt each year.” More over, the International Fund for Animal Welfare claims the seal hunt costs taxpayers more than it earns and “makes no economic sense.”

It sounds like the Canadian government is just bullshitting, but maybe they aren’t. Let’s say the hunt does supply a significant income to many families; that doesn’t mean we should support it. The fact that people depend on a particular industry does not justify that industry morally—think about cigarettes. There are many, many people that are financially dependent on the cigarette industry. I don’t just mean the company owners, I mean the factory workers or the many small businesses that sell cigarettes. I don’t have the numbers but I’m guessing it’s a lot more people than 6,000. But what does that mean? Does that mean we should encourage smoking? And discourage people from quitting because it would have economic ramifications for the cigarette industry? No one (save Philip Morris) would ever accept that argument, but we’re supposed to ignore the brutality of the sealing hunt for the same reason?

Not all businesses make it; some aren’t viable and some aren’t justifiable: thems the breaks. We didn’t cry over the slap bracelet and scrunchy factories that closed—you don’t think people lost income from that? The truth is the seal hunt is plain wrong and no amount of money makes it right.

[Photo from the Telegraph]

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