‘Show me what you’re do­ing’

Seal­ing in­dus­try ex­pects more than ‘ lip ser­vice’ from Ot­tawa

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH - BY ADAM RAN­DELL

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.

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