‘Show me what you’re doing’
Sealing industry expects more than ‘ lip service’ from Ottawa
Google search for “Canadian politics seal stance,” and what will you find.
The first page results are pop stars, rock stars and country musicians opposing the annual harvest.
What won’t you won’t find in the top searches? A single, timely response from Canadian politicians advocating their support.
Searching “Liberal seal hunt” will turn up Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff reiterating his support of the hunt earlier this month, after a Liberal MP from British Columbia opposed the hunt.
“ Conservative seal hunt” or “Conservative seal stance” show no comments from that party on the issue.
It appears the annual seal harvest has been a taboo issue for federal politicians hoping to secure a seat in parliament in the upcoming election.
According to Frank Pinhorn of the Canadian Sealers Association, beyond acknowledging the seal hunt takes place, there is little being said about it.
He said politicians can talk the talk when it comes to showing sup- port, but the end result shows little actually taking place.
“Don’t tell me you’re doing something, show me what you are doing,” Pinhorn said about politicians who say they support the hunt.
With regards to previous work he feels there hasn’t been enough accomplished.
When it comes to the industry, he said, the federal government is responsible for the resource and international issues.
The European Union ban on the import of seal products is an example he used. Pinhorn said the federal government hasn’t done anything to get it lifted.
“ They could have been more forceful with the issue and could have dealt with (it) before it got settled,” he said. “It didn’t seem like they were interested in it, in anyway meaningful.”
The Conservative government planned to take the matter before the World Trade Organization in hopes of getting the ban over-
turned. As far as Pinhorn is concerned it’s only paying “ lip service” to the issue.
Earlier this year, Ottawa secured a deal with China to export seal products into Chinese markets. Pinhorn is glad an agreement was reached but he has concerns with how it has progressed since then.
“It seems like once they got the agreement announced everything slowed down,” he said. “None of the protocols are in place yet to get the products into China.”
To his knowledge there will be no product shipped to China this year because the annual harvest is already underway. In order for the federal government to make a positive contribution to the industry, Pinhorn said, politicians need to acknowledge the herd numbers are massive and the annual harvest is an important part of a fishers income.
“ They’ve got to start putting money into it and start doing things that are realistic,” he said. “If we’ve got a market in China, all the parameters have to be established so the (seal products) can go to China.”
Pinhorn said a more meaningful approach has to be taken by government to turn sealing into a stronger industry. This year the price for a Grade A pelt is $21. However, the costs for fuel, ammunition and operating expenses are increasing. Pinhorn said this makes it difficult for sealers to come out on top.
To turn things around, Pinhorn said, a stronger market has to be established. He would like to see government get involved in product development, and get the product moving through the markets.
“ The market is down and we’ve got to bring (it) back up,” he said. “ We’ve got to find a market for the product
and we’ve got to get more into the hands of our sealers.”
From the wharf
Twillingate sealer Jack Troake said, as it stands right now, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be a sealer. At 75 years old, Troake said the market isn’t as strong as it was one time. Like Pinhorn, Troake feels government has to establish stronger markets, which will hopefully bring a stronger price for pelts.
This, he said, will offset the rising expenses associated with the harvest and allow sealers to turn a decent profit. Troake said he hasn’t heard much from government in the way of support.
Speaking from experience, Troake would also like to see government find a means of stopping the propaganda of anti-sealing activists.
“ When the sealing industry is about to start up in the spring of the year, the first thing you sees ( from activists is pictures of) a white coat,” he said. “ You haven’t been able to kill a white coat for 25 years.”
He said Ottawa should bring a lawsuit against activists who use outdated information, such as pictures of white coat seals.
Troake said anti-sealing activists are getting out of control, even to the point where the life for both him and his family have been threatened. Something has to be done, he said.