The bloodshed of the 2013 Canadian commercial seal hunt has begun »
Animated video from Humane Society International. It’s a cartoon, so it’s not graphic, but I’ll be damned if I’m not tearing up. That song!
It’s begun. The first seal of the 2013 Canadian commercial seal hunt was killed earlier today, according to the Humane Society. We’ve written a lot on the seal hunt in the past, so I don’t really have anything new to say. Sorry.
Top 10 links of the week! A breezy ride through veganism! »
[your animal viral video of the week! I don’t understand what’s going on. Where is this? Is this like a private dolphin?]
I can tell you guys have big things to worry about but if you have time to care about the seal hunt, you should keep an eye on the Humane Society’s “Live from the Ice” reporting.
Yo, did you know there’s a debate about whether or not it’s ethical for vegans and vegetarians to eat mock meat? Me neither! This Dish is Veg has a post about it, read it and tell me what you think.
Some 20-year-old killed a cat to perfect her outfit for a Lady Gaga show. I don’t want to talk about it.
Treehugger has good news about the gorilla population in the Congo! Gorillas are just amazing. Like, you can’t not be amazed when you look at them. Plus, they’re nearly vegan (I hear sometimes they eat bugs)! They don’t eat cows and they still manage to be all strong and diesel.
If you didn’t get enough Laura this week, check out The Week in Vegan. She mentions Shakira, who rules. I’m sold. Read it and comment!
News gets cute this week: “Research shows that man’s best friend categorizes people as generous or mean by keeping tabs on how they treat others.” That’s how everyone’s dog knows YOU’RE the softy! Read all about it at the Daily Mail.
Read Ricky Gervais’ letter calling for the director of NIH to help 14 chimpanzees that have been sent to a research facility in Texas. Ricky Gervais is just the man. I don’t know what he could do to make me like him more but I think it would involve free vegan cinnamon rolls. Or roller-skates.
Wolves can’t catch a break. Groups are in the process of trying to de-list wolves as an endangered species in the Great Lakes area. The New York Times has the story. I’m getting fucking sick of this. It’s like, you almost wipe out a species and then after hard work, the species begins to flourish and then you want to kill them again. WTF?
Friends of Animals has a brief update on the wolf de-listing rider in the budget proposal. It’s on it’s way to the prez! Fucking awesome!
Dudes, I’m a huge Stooges fan and I love Iggy Pop so his speaking out against the disgusting seal hunt RULES. I love it when someone awesome does something awesome. It’s like making out with a rainbow!
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.
Canadian seal slaughter continues to blow »
It’s that time of year again, unfortunately: the Canadian seal hunt will soon be upon us. Hundreds of thousands of seals will be bludgeoned to death. It fucking sucks. From the Humane Society:
The Canadian government will allow the slaughter of 468,200 of harp, grey and hooded seals this year, an increase of 80,000 from 2010.
“The Harper government has declared war on Canada’s seals,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “Stephen Harper is playing regional politics in the lead-up to a federal election at the expense of hundreds of thousands of defenseless baby seals. Harp seals are ice-dependent animals and they are facing the devastating loss of their ice habitat because of climate change. A responsible government would take immediate action to protect this population rather than recklessly encouraging a commercial slaughter.”
The 2011 harp seal quota is the highest set since the Canadian government introduced quota management in 1971. Today’s kill levels meet and exceed those of the 1950s and 1960s, when overhunting reduced the harp seal population by as much as two-thirds.
There’s been some good developments in the boycott: “Twelve of America’s favorite celebrity chefs have joined the Protect Seals boycott of Canadian seafood. Richard Blais, Jennifer Carroll, Carla Hall, Mike Isabella, Jamie Lauren, Antonia Lofaso, Dale Levitski, Angelo Sosa, Dale Talde, Casey Thompson, Fabio Viviani, and Tre Wilcox, all participants on Bravo’s Top Chef All Stars, are teaming up with the HSUS in an effort to end Canada’s commercial seal slaughter.” (thanks for the tip, Anne H!) So that’s good! It’s nice to know that not everybody sucks. I still can’t believe people eat seal. That’s so gross! That’s like eating bunnies! Oh, wait.
Also, China is taking real steps to ban the trade of seal products in the country. What’s up with China lately? I know there was the terrible live animals in key-chains thing but for somewhere with previously almost zero animal protection laws, they’ve really been making some strides for animal rights! They banned animal circuses, which many supposedly animal-friendly countries haven’t done. And now this stuff with the seal trade. Kudos, China! Or however you say kudos in Mandarin.
Here, you can also check out this Humane Society search engine for restaurants that participate in the seal boycott. Find a place to go and tell them you are there because you support their decision to take a stand against this SUPER GROSS industry!!!
Hey everybody, I’m about to show you a super-sad video! However, it’s early and I don’t actually enjoy depressing everyone first thing in the morning, so before we get to the upsetting video, let’s watch the adorable harp seal in the video above! I’ll wait.
Jesus Christmas, so cute! Right? So cute.
Now that I’ve lifted your spirits a bit, time to get real. You know I try to keep you updated on vegan and animal-related advertising so here’s the latest: a Peta commercial about the Canadian seal hunt garnered second place for video advertising in July 2010 over at Ads of the World, a super-popular ad blog. It was second to the Old Spice guy video—that’s pretty high praise! People are bonkers for that Old Spice ad.
The Peta commercial is part of their “Explore Elsewhere” campaign, a rebuttal to the Canadian Tourism Commission’s “Come Explore Canada” campaign. I think “Explore Elsewhere” is a pretty funny tag but I’m not exactly sure why Ads of the World likes the video so much. It’s a pretty standard video by Peta. It’s not bad, it’s just nothing new. I think maybe the reason the ad blog likes the commercial is because Peta used Canada’s national anthem as the soundtrack. That’s a pretty big diss! I’m into it.
This ad is also important now because the European Union’s general court just put a suspension on the legislation that would ban the sale of seal products in Europe that passed last year. The suspension came about because an Inuit group is claiming that the ban will hurt the market for them, even though it does not include products from their seal hunt. I think that’s an unreasonable argument; I know I’m not an economist but I don’t think that argument is reason enough to maintain an entire industry that’s nothing short of despicable.
Luckily! The badasses of the EU decided to go along with the ban anyway! Yee-ha, cowboys! Still, any group that already filed court actions appealing the ban aren’t yet included in it. LAME. Oh, I have a question: who in Europe was buying all these seal products? People are saying the ban will be a huge blow to the seal-product market—that means there are a bunch of mofos in Europe that have been buying the hell out of seal products. Who are these freaks?
OK, without further ado, let’s watch the Peta commercial. Wait, there’s some ado left: WARNING! THIS VIDEO IS GRAPHIC, WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK! Seriously, I won’t be mad if you can’t watch it, it’s very upsetting. If you think you can stomach it, here it is:
[can’t see the video? watch it on vegansaurus.com]
Jeez louise, I’m about to cry! But I have work to do today! Let’s all go listen to Cee-lo Green’s latest, greatest song and try to pull it together.
My name is Martha and I’m an employee of the Government of Canada working on the seal file.
While some may not agree with the harvest itself, it is worth noting that the seal population is healthy and abundant. The Northwest Atlantic harp seal population is currently estimated at 6.9 million animals—more than triple the size of the herd in the 1970s—and is not considered a threatened or endangered species.
Fishery officers monitor the harvest closely and infractions are taken seriously.
For you and your readers, there is information about seal populations available here: http://bit.ly/buywqj. As well, the full text of the Marine Mammal Regulations can be found here: http://bit.ly/bbYSXN
Hey Martha! Thanks for stopping by! We love getting the other side around here, especially when it’s full of doublespeak from a government eager to wipe the blood off its public face. So let’s get a few things straight.
1. A “harvest” is when you pick fruit off trees or whatever. It’s not when you bludgeon the heads of newborn seals until they’re good and dead (and before they have a chance to breed because that’s so “sustainable”). I would love to have been a fly on the wall in the meeting where a roomful of government staffers decided which word to use. ”How about ‘cuddle’? Are we liking ‘cuddle’?” “I don’t know, I’m still pushing for ‘happy finish’.” “YOU GUYS. I’VE GOT IT: ‘harvest’.” And the room breaks out in high-fives and fist-bumps.
2. Well shit howdy, the herd size has tripled since the 1970s? I wonder what else happened in the 1970s. Oh yeah, that’s right: The United States of America, your No. 1 trading partner, banned the importation of seal products. You’re kinda making my case for me, Martha.
3. And well done ignoring the point of the post and the Humane Society’s video, which is to show unprecedented melting of Arctic ice. Melting that is only getting worse. Yes, I’m sure your office will say, “based on data from the last five to 10 years, we predict that we can continue to
give sustainable happy finish to harvest X number of seals for the next five to 10 years.” Well guess what, the world’s climate is changing, and fast. What happened five years ago is nothing like what’s happening this year. Try reading the news sometime. It’s in that section buried under Sports, Gossip, and Offbeat. No, keep going, you’re at the comics. There it is. It’s called Science.
4. Lastly, did you not notice the name of the site? We don’t care if your seal hunt is sustainable or not. But let’s put it this way. You may think it’s sustainable, but it’s not. Because in a few short years from now, the habitat for those animals will be completely gone, and all of you will be taken by surprise.
What the fuck is your problem? You love lecturing us about being a responsible member of the world community, but you can’t even keep your own house in order. Global warming is melting away Arctic sea ice, and for the first year on record, no ice formed in key birthing areas for harp seals off Canada’s East Coast. The Humane Society toured the area, and they’re expecting “mass mortalities” of seals. Don’t feel like watching the video? I can sum it up for you in one word: BLEAK.
So of course you’re not canceling the baby seal hunt for this year. Which makes total sense. Any time a species is about to collapse, the most logical thing to do is club the few surviving newborns to death. In polite company, they use words like “tragedy” and “disaster” in a very passive-voice, evade-blame kind of way to describe what you’re doing. Since we’re not polite company around here: refusing to call off the seal hunt this year—of all years—is fucking genocide. Full stop.
Seriously, Canada, why can’t you take a hint? All your best friends have already banned imported seal fur. We did it in the ’70s, and the EU finally followed last year, leaving you with China, hardly an ethical powerhouse, as one of your biggest seal fur customers. Really, Canada?
You already know that the Humane Society has been hounding you and your prime minister with letters and boycotts of Canadian seafood. So now they’re trying another approach: rewarding good behavior, in the off chance it ever materializes. Each one of us will pledge to spend more money on everything Canadian if you stop the seal hunt. I personally pledged to drink an entire gallon of Canadian maple syrup and listen to nothing but Shania Twain and Rush on shuffle for a whole month. Tens of thousands of other people are already pledging their American dollars to you, but only if you cancel the hunt.
And by the way, while we’re talking about boycotts and embargoes, you know all that tar sand oil you keep trying to sell us? You can keep it. Or better yet, keep it in the ground. Oil and coal are what got us into this mess, and the last thing we need is an even dirtier and more polluting version of oil to melt away what’s left of the Arctic ice.
Anyway, Canada, thanks for listening, and GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.
ps. If this is your way of keeping disaffected Americans from threatening to move to you if George W. Bush or Sarah Palin gets elected, well, it fucking worked. Now can you leave the g-d seals out of it next time?