Bogus Hunt, Bogus Poll, and Bogus Politicians

Canadian Press is boasting today that an Ipsos-Reid poll commissioned by the Canadian government demonstrates that 60% of Canadians surveyed support the annual mass slaughter of seals in Eastern Canada.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society rejects this poll because it was worded so as to mislead Canadians into thinking it was a poll in support of aboriginal sealing.

The slaughter of seals that Sea Shepherd opposes does not have a single aboriginal person involved. It is the slaughter conducted each year by the fishermen of Quebec and Newfoundland, and with a quota of 350,000+ it is the largest mass slaughter of a marine mammal population anywhere in the world.

Ships of the modern-day seal hunt.

Canadian Coast Guard breaks ice for the sealing vessels.

The poll asserts that the hunt is humane, that the quota is sustainable, and that no baby seals are killed.

Sea Shepherd disputes all these allegations by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

"This is a cruel and inhumane slaughter of unacceptably high populations of new born seals and if the poll had been worded to reflect these facts, the results would have been much different," said Captain Paul Watson.

"Polls are designed to get the results that the client desires," continued Watson, "and what the Canadian government desired was a poll that would make it seem that they have the support of the Canadian people. As a Canadian, I have enough faith in Canadians to know they do not support cruelty, these unacceptably high quotas, and they do not support the cowardly slaughter of baby seals."

The Canadian Press claims that "The Animal Liberation Front and the Sea Shepherd Society, two animal rights groups, cite a 2004 poll by Ipsos-Reid they say found 71 per cent of Canadians surveyed believed the commercial seal hunt should either be banned or limited to seals over one year old."

This statement is an attempt by Canadian Press to link Sea Shepherd with the ALF for the purpose of discrediting Sea Shepherd. It is really quite shoddy journalism. Even more so because they state that Sea Shepherd cites a Ipsos-Reid poll. In fact, the Sea Shepherd website reprinted an editorial from the Canadian National Post that cited this poll. The National Post is a conservative national newspaper. The spin really is quite remarkable. Canadian Press takes a statement from a conservative newspaper and reports that it came from Sea Shepherd and from the ALF. The ALF is not even an organization and is not in a position to make such a statement with any credibility.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not an animal rights group, but is in fact, a marine wildlife and habitat protection and conservation organization.

The Canadian Press really should research their stories with a little more care or admit that they spin the facts to suit their bias.

Canadians support seal hunt, says federal poll Canadian Press

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - As the federal government prepares to set new quotas this fall for the controversial East Coast seal hunt, the Fisheries Department has armed itself with a $5,000 poll that suggests the majority of Canadians support the hunt.

The Ipsos-Reid poll, completed in February, found 60 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they supported to some degree Ottawa's current policy on the annual hunt.

With the proviso that no nursing seals are hunted, that the killing is done in a humane manner and that quotas are set to ensure that seal populations are sustained, pollsters asked 1,000 Canadians whether they agreed or disagreed with current federal seal hunt policy.

"We face a battle for hearts and minds sometimes with animal rights groups who have figures of their own and polls of their own," said Phil Jenkins, spokesman for the Fisheries Department.

The last federal survey on the matter was done in 2000, he said.

"We figured, five years, public opinion can change and it was time to do another one," Jenkins said.

The telephone survey found 22 per cent of respondents strongly agreed with the federal policy and 38 per cent somewhat agreed, while 23 per cent strongly disagreed and 16 per cent somewhat disagreed.

The poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Residents polled in Saskatchewan and Manitoba proffered the most support - 29 per cent-followed closely by respondents in the Atlantic provinces - 28 per cent.

Respondents in British Columbia were most opposed, with 32 per cent strongly opposed.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare, which has long staged protests against the hunt, said its surveys have consistently found two thirds of Canadians oppose the commercial hunt.

Spokesman Rob Sinclair said the February poll is confusing because it doesn't distinguish between the commercial hunt and sealing by aboriginal groups or for personal use.

And the group disagrees with all three provisos.

"We don't consider it humane," Sinclair said. "We don't consider it to be properly regulated and we don't consider the conservation science behind it to be valid."

The Animal Liberation Front and the Sea Shepherd Society, two animal rights groups, cite a 2004 poll by Ipsos-Reid they say found 71 per cent of Canadians surveyed believed the commercial seal hunt should either be banned or limited to seals over one year old.

However, an official at Ipsos-Reid found no record of such a poll.

Until contacted by The Canadian Press, the Humane Society of the United States cited the same poll on its website.
The site now cites unidentified polling, which it says "shows 85 per cent of Canadians believe seals under one year of age should be protected from all hunting."

For the federal government's February survey, respondents were asked separately if hunting animals for commercial purposes is an acceptable practice when carried out in a humane manner.

Fifty-five per cent of respondents agreed; 19 per cent strongly. Forty-four per cent disagreed; 28 per cent of them strongly.

On both questions, strong supporters were most likely to reside in rural areas.

After a few years of relative quiet on the ice floes, those opposed to commercial sealing stepped up their campaign this year and have called on international restaurants and food suppliers to boycott all Canadian seafood until the hunt is banned.