The domino effect of no sealing industry
If you are a Newfoundlander living in an outport, which I am, who has taken his living over the years directly from the sea, you must be frustrated to the point of banging your head off the wall.
For the past 14 years, I have taken 100 per cent of my employment from the sealing industry. The past 14 years have no doubt had its good and bad years. When it comes to the sealing industry, let’s take a look at why we are where we now find ourselves.
To say there are no markets or that people don’t want our seal products is a false statement. The problem is freedom of choice. Let me explain what I mean by that. If I walk into a store, let’s say a clothing store to buy a new coat, I am offered a selection to choose from. It is my choice to then select a coat that I feel good about.
I try on some coats and find one that looks and feels good, but there’s something I don’t like — it was made in China or some other country. I don’t buy it. Why? The reason is that I would rather support a Canadian product. So I put the coat back on the rack and select a product made in Canada and feel good about what I’ve done.
Did I do anything wrong? No. I made a choice and that choice was mine. The big thing is the fact that I had that choice and that’s what’s wrong with regards to seal furs. It’s not that people don’t want it. It’s that people aren’t given the choice.
Customers in the EU or Russia that may buy a seal skin product are not given the opportunity to make up their own mind because their governments have made the decision for them, and that’s wrong.
Why is it wrong? It’s wrong because of the fact that Canada holds trade agreements with these same governments. Our seal skin products should be given the same opportunities as other products which are traded between our countries. The only reason that seal products are the targets is because of the deep pockets of animal rights groups whom have feathered their nests and become extremely rich and powerful through lies and presentation of misinformation pertaining to the harvesting of seals.
These deep pocketed activists/terrorists have scammed millions of dollars over the years on the backs of sealers. They are on a mission of control and one of the things they want to control is the consumers’ right of choice. Through the filling of the right pockets, the greasing of certain hands within these governments, and a very rich advertising campaign, they have managed to impose bans on seal products.
So to say there are no markets for seal products is false. If the consumers of these countries were given the choice, I would say there are no markets and respect their choice.
So where do we go from here and what can we do? The provincial and federal governments are the only ones with the power to change this. Sometimes you have to make a stand on principle no matter how big or small the problem. What that means in my opinion is retaliation on these countries in the form of a product ban on a product near and dear to their hearts and economy, while we wait for the court challenges to proceed.
The fact is, if this were a ban on something else like wood products, the government would have already made its stand and this problem wouldn’t be here today. The fact that it’s only little old Newfoundland with only a small handful of MPS sitting in Ottawa, it’s no big deal.
The fact is, there is a trade agreement in place between our countries, and it should be lived up to and our governments are the only ones that can fix this.
With regards to the animal rights groups, they should be targeted for what they are and treated as such — terrorists. Investigate their financial activities, and take away any rights they have to go to the ice. Charge them for fundraising on lies and mistruths within Canada. In general, make life very difficult for them and hit them where it hurts — in the pocket.
What’s at stake here? Seal industry jobs only? Far from it. Fish stocks are probably the biggest thing at stake in all of this. These seals will shut down every fishing enterprise along Canada’s east coast, one species at a time, and destroy a world food source. We won’t have to worry about shipping unprocessed fish out of the country; there won’t be any.
If you look up the numbers on what seals are taking/eating, you will find they take/eat more fish from our coastal waters yearly then all boats and companies put together. Something has to be done. We can harvest them and process them, or we can cull them from which no one benefits. The fact of the matter is that this seal population has to be controlled.
In closing, I say one thing to both levels of government. How all this ends depends on you. This is a fight that can’t be won by industry people alone, and the stakes are very high, as I’ve tried to point out above. For God’s sake, stand up and be noticed before this industry is gone and in turn our fishery along with it.
Tony Johnson writes from Catalina