A Tale of Two "Industries"

Sea Shepherd Response to Newfoundland Editorial (original article below)

Commentary by Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The Newfoundland media just does not seem to get the picture. The latest editorial in the St. John's Telegram is complaining that anti-sealing groups are raising more money than the sealers are making killing the seals.

Of course they are. It's simply the politics of the market. What is obvious here is that the public's support of saving seals is far greater than the public's desire to purchase seal pelts or seal penises.

People are not forced to donate to causes. They choose to donate to causes. Any businessman knows that the consumer speaks with their pocketbook. So, what is so surprising about the fact that donations to protect seals are greater than profits from slaughtering seals?

Let's compare the two "industries:" One exploits a living resource and inflicts horrific cruelty and waste in addition to contributing to the possible extinction of the seals. The other exploits the cruelty and the waste to raise funds to end the cruelty and the waste. The impact from the utilization of natural resources by killing seals is an ecological negative. The impact on the environment from opposing the infliction of cruelty and the waste of life is nil.

There is no question that the anti-sealing "industry" provides more jobs than the sealing industry. Sealing is a primitive, barbaric business and the troglodytes that participate in it are usually low-paid equivalents of your common abattoir worker. They have already demonstrated their ecological incompetence by wiping out the fish through greedy overfishing practises.

The workers in the anti-sealing "industry" are higher paid, but they are better educated and certainly more civilized. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to determine that a more intelligent person would rather save a baby seal than bash its brains out on the ice. The difference is that the anti-sealing workers will not be out of a job if the seal hunt ends. Saving seals is just one issue among many issues. For Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, it represents only about 10% of our annual budget. We spend more funds opposing whaling, overfishing, shark finning and other oceanic protection activities. Both PETA and HSUS have far larger issues that they raise and spend funds on. The abolishment of sealing will not put any humane workers or conservationists out of business because in this world we live in, unfortunately, there is no end to battles to oppose cruelty and ecological destruction.

Without exception all of the anti-sealing organizations want sealing abolished.

And the best way to abolish sealing is through economics. First, we need to make the seal hunt so expensive that it becomes an industrial liability. This is being done through boycotts of Canadian seafood and tourism and by undermining overseas markets.

This is an expensive tactic, and in order to be effective will require considerable funding. The funding is provided by willing participants who are investing in a process they support and believe in. They don't receive a monetary return on their investment, but they do receive an ethical or moral return on that investment.

An industry cannot survive without a demand. The demand to do something to abolish sealing and to end the cruelty and slaughter on the ice floes off Eastern Canada is tremendous. The anti-sealing movement needs a war chest to be effective and the bigger that war chest, the more powerful the movement.

Thus there is no embarrassment or contradiction in the massive funding received by hundreds of groups worldwide to oppose the slaughter of seals. In fact, it is a testament to how effective the movement is becoming.

The cruel and wasteful, ecologically damaging slaughter of seals will be shut down.

A few years ago in 1989, when I was debating former Newfoundland Premier Brian Peckford at Memorial University in Newfoundland, I was asked what we would do if Canada opened up the sealing industry again. I replied that the only effective way was to take an economic sledge hammer and pound the Newfoundland and Canadian industries into the ground. In other words, make it cost more than it is worth.

That is what is being done now, and the anti-sealing movement is now more powerful and more effective than ever. The only thing that will end this movement is the abolishment of sealing.

It is also a fact that the anti-sealing movement has been led by Canadians and not by foreigners. Rebecca Aldworth of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is a Newfoundlander. Brian Davies, the founder of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), was from Fredericton, New Brunswick. Dr. David Lavigne is from Guelph, Ontario, Farley Mowat is from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and I am from St. Andrew's, New Brunswick. What we have all done was reach out to the world for support to end an obscene atrocity in our own nation and the world has responded.

So the fact is that more money is now raised to save seals than to kill them, and the offer has been laid on the table. We have offered to pay the sealers to not kill seals. But they have refused, preferring to inflict sadistic measures upon defenceless seal pups because it's "what we do."

As a Canadian, I find the seal slaughter to be the greatest blemish to ever smear the maple leaf flag. It is a disgrace and an abomination. We will end it in the name of humanity and it will be done because we have the support of the international public and the seal killers do not.

St. John's Telegram
Last updated at 8:21 AM on 03/04/07

Protest groups vying for piece of flipper pie

Monday, the East Coast seal hunt began, and it promises to be one of the biggest money-makers in the history of the hunt. There are more participants than ever before, each fighting for a piece of the lucrative business built on the backs of wild animals, and there are scores of newcomers angling their way in for a piece of the action.

Sure, the actual seal quota is much lower, and pelt prices are forecast to be lower this year than in recent years, but that shouldn't slow things down. The big dollars - well into the millions - aren't made on seals and their pelts, anyway.

All the big money in seals is in donations, and the donation mill is running faster than it ever has before.

The GDP (Gross Donations Product) promises to be right off the charts, with animal protection groups already planning how best to get their share. It's a messy, nasty business.

It seems like every Tom, Dick and Sky is operating their own donation mill this year.

There's the perennial favourite, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which is operating a multi-partite money hunt to collect donations this year. With the hunt just one day old, IFAW Canada, IFAW United Kingdom, IFAW United States/International, IFAW Asia Pacific, IFAW France, IFAW Deutschland, IFAW India, IFAW Japan, IFAW Eastern Africa, IFAW Nederland and IFAW Southern Africa were all headlining the seal hunt on their websites right below the "donate now" button, but that's really only the beginning.

The Humane Society of the United States - which only cottoned onto the seal business a few years ago - is featuring a dead seal counter on its website this year. That group promises to maintain a running tally of seals killed, but not a running tally of donations collected.

Its satellite, the Humane Society International - Canada has its monthly payment plan options up and running, even though it can't figure out the proper way to spell the street name of its Canadian head office at 1 Yonge St. in Toronto. (The agency - not a registered Canadian charity - lists its mailing address as 1 Younge Street.)

The World Society for the Protection of Animals is collecting to protect seals, as is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which will allow you to donate a vehicle, a ship, some nautical equipment or even your frequent flyer miles to the cause.

Britain's Respect for Animals is using seal hunt information to dun for cash through its "Boycott Canada" program, as is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which asks donors to "help stop the bloody seal massacre."

All in all, it should be a more than successful hunt for dollars. The only question now is why an industry so dependent on natural resources in this province can get away with not being taxed on their exploitation of what's clearly an East Coast commodity.

Get on that, Danny, would ya?