Costco Makes Business Decision - Good News for the Seals

UPDATE to this posting on 4/05/2006:

On March 30th, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society posted the story: Costco Makes Business Decision - Good News for the Seals.

Costco was very much aware that we would be posting this story.

Sea Shepherd representative Steve Thompson wrote to Richard Duffy prior to the posting and said:

Mr. Duffy,

As I expressed in our phone conversation earlier today this is certainly welcome news and we look forward to updating our members as well as ending the boycott of Costco Wholesale as soon as we have a written statement to this effect that confirms what you have mentioned below....

To get to the heart of the matter, we have a duty to our members to report accurate information and at this point in time the only way we feel we can be assured of this favorable response sticking is if it is in writing.

In closing I can appreciate this was not an easy decision for your senior management team and that this decision will produce some (limited) Fallout in Newfoundland, however this will be next to nothing compared to the positive press Costco will certainly receive in exchange for this compassionate decision."

First Costco agrees to remove the seal oil capsules. When the decision is publicized, Costco then claims it was a routine business decision and that there was never any communication with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Sea Shepherd then released the agreement that was signed from Costco. Consequently, Costco is threatened with a boycott of one store in Newfoundland by people who claim to want seal oil capsules (led by Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams). Costco then reneges on their commitment to remove the seal oil capsules and agrees to put the vile product back on the shelf. Now Costco is claiming that they made the decision to put the product back on the shelf because Sea Shepherd released the agreement which they said we had agreed to keep quiet despite the fact that Costco was informed in advance that the decision would be made public by Sea Shepherd.

So now we have a full blown controversy with Costco caught in multiple lies.


After discussions with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Costco's senior management team have decided to remove seal oil capsules from the shelves of their St. John's location, their only store in Canada where the capsules were available.

Sea Shepherd applauds the decision to remove this vile product.

Canada has spent millions of dollars searching for and creating new products and markets for seals. Some of these products have been perverse and some have been ridiculous. Most have been impractical and all have involved the inflicting of incredible cruelty and death to hundreds of thousands of young seal pups every year.

Canada has been desperate to justify the annual slaughter of seals ever since 1984 when the European Union banned whitecoat pelts on the grounds that the product was obscene. A decade later, Canada revived the practice of viciously clubbing seals with a newly improved, and according to the Canadian government, "morally acceptable seal hunt."

Canada announced that only adult seals would be killed. The trick was in redefining what it means to be adult. By allowing the seal pups to grow for an extra week or two until losing their white coat, the still defenseless baby seals now dressed-out in a mottled coat could be slain "more acceptably."

Turning a three-week old baby seal into an adult requires some suspension of disbelief but Canadian bureaucrats apparently have no problem in convincing themselves that the slaughter is now justified because only "adult" seals are slain.

This disbelief is even more incredulous when they parrot the Department of Fisheries and Oceans unsubstantiated and ridiculous claim that the slaughter of the seals is "humane." Sea Shepherd and other groups have filmed repeated violations of regulations illustrating blatant abuse and cruelty.

To create markets, Canadian diplomats actually traveled to places like China to convince them that baby seal penises, if severed and dried, could be powdered and made into a tea that could cure impotence.

Not content with pushing voodoo snake oil remedies for Chinese erectile "disfunctionates," Canada recommenced the marketing of sealskin coats to Russia and Japan.

With seal products banned in the United States, the only product they could develop for the Canadian market was Omega-3 seal oil capsules to sell as some sort of health benefit. Still posing as snake oil salesmen, Canadian government civil servants working as seal product promotional salesmen began pushing seal oil as a cure for everything from warts to a remedy to prevent heart attacks. They conveniently failed to inform consumers of the toxins in this product such as trace amounts of PCB's and heavy metals including mercury.  And so, bottles of seal oil capsules began to be produced and marketed.

Seal oil capsules - these products have passed the tests of Health Canada. Seal oil
capsules can contain traces of toxins and still meet the government standards.
Flax seed oil and hemp seed oil are healthy alternatives.

Costco inadvertently provided some credibility to this product by stocking the shelves of their Eastern Canadian outlets with Omega-3 baby seal oil capsules. But, thanks to the efforts of Sea Shepherd volunteer Stephen Thompson of Vancouver, who brought this product to the attention of Costco's executive team, they reviewed the feasibility of selling this product and subsequently made a business decition to remove this product and not offer it again. He has been tirelessly tracking and opposing the baby seal oil capsule market in Canada.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is pleased and satisfied about this decision.

Captain Paul Watson responded by saying, "I have been an executive member of Costco for over fifteen years and Sea Shepherd has utilized Costco to supply our ships on both the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts. We are happy that we can continue to do business with Costco and we are very happy that this despicable and vile product has been removed from Costco shelves. It is a product from an industry that has brought Canada nothing but shame and disgrace. Costco has made a decision that will benefit the seals and that will ultimately benefit Canada."

One thing is for certain, the Canadian government along with the government of Newfoundland will more than likely not take this lying down. After being on the receiving end of one broadside after another, from pop icons such as Sir Paul McCartney, to international film stars the likes of Brigitte Bardot, we can expect the seal slaughter proponents to come out (yet again) kicking and punching at any and all who would oppose the massacre of seal pups.

Expect nasty words from Canada's government officials, expect them to accuse our side of the same things, the same lies they have repeated over and over again; that we are misinformed, that this will lead to no sales of meat, and that children will be denied their milk at school.

This is the ranting of a desperate group who will stop at nothing to get their way, anything to allow their people to kill seals.

If you think the images of twelve-day old seals being bludgeoned with a bloody club bothers you then now is the time to act -- and you don't need to travel to the ice floes to be effective. Write to Costco and thank them for their compassionate and morally-correct decision and if you are a Costco member it would be a good idea to include this information in your letter.

If you would like to let Costco know how you feel about the fact that they sell a product derived from dead baby seals:

CEO of Costco:

Jim Sinegal
Chief Executive Officer

Karen Paulsell
Administrative Assistant to Jim Sinegal
Direct phone: 425-313-8565
Fax: 425-313-8103

Shareholders - Two contacts best used by anyone who holds shares in Costco or who is thinking about purchasing shares:

Sharon Rugh
Executive Assistant to Richard Galanti
Direct phone: 425-313-8256
Fax: 425-313-6593

Richard Galanti
Chief Financial Officer
Direct phone: as of yet unknown

Canadian Senior Executives - Costco's top decision-makers in Canada (the ones who ultimately pushed to restock the shelves with seal oil caps):

Louise Wendling
Senior Vice President of Costco Canada
Direct phone: 613-221-2000 ext. 2020
Fax: 613-221-2001

Pierre Riel
Senior VP and General Manager for Eastern Canada
Direct phone: 613-221-2000 ext. 2003
Fax: 613-221-2001

Pharmaceuticals - Two individuals in Canada in charge of Costco's pharmaceutical division which handles the seal oil product:

Reza Farmand
Director of Pharmacy
Direct phone: 613-221-2313
Fax: 613-221-2001

Mitch Johnston
Buyer - Canadian Pharmacies
Direct phone: 613-221-2385

The old adage of voting with your dollars presently could not be truer, we at Sea Shepherd recommend to all our supporters and to those of you who like us care about the seals  choose to shop at locations that support your way of thinking, do business with the compassionate.

An Alternative Solution

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has endeavored to create alternative employment for sealers.

In 1995, Captain Paul Watson developed the idea of a cruelty-free non-lethal form of sealing. This would have involved the collecting of the naturally-molted hairs from whitecoated baby seals. These hairs, which are transparent and hollow, have qualities similar to eiderdown. Sea Shepherd was able to convince a German bedding and fabric company to market the hairs for the production of bed comforters.

The Canadian government refused to issue permits for the development of this alternative after sealers objected to the idea saying, "This is a faggoty idea. Seals are meant to be clubbed not coddled."

In 1995, when Captain Watson and Sea Shepherd Advisory Board member Martin Sheen traveled to the Magdalen Islands to promote this alternative, they and their crew were violently attacked by sealers. Captain Watson was severely beaten and Martin Sheen had his life threatened. Reporters were beaten and had their cameras broken. Canada responded with then Minister of Fisheries Brian Tobin declaring that he could understand the frustrations of the sealers, and of course, no sealers were charged with assault or for damaging property.

It was Sea Shepherd's goal to end the violence (to both seals and people) and present an economically viable solution for the community at the same time. The tradition and industry of killing could be turned into a business which would both aid the local people and remove the stain of seal "hunt" from Canada's reputation.

Sea Shepherd hopes that in the near future more retailers will decide that they want no part of the "old tradition" and will not support it through the sale of products obtained through ruthless cruelty and slaughter.