Our lips are not sealed
Once again the Newfoundland seal hunt is subject to international scorn and ridicule from popular culture.
You may remember Pamela Anderson, famous for flaunting her notable assets, not her professional experience with seal harvesting or biological modelling, who gained notoriety in the province for expressing her disdain for the annual seal hunt.
Recently, the celebrity has attacked the practice, this time offering $1 million to sealers if they discontinue the tradition.
To no one’s surprise the sealers were opposed to this $165 per individual incentive and Anderson’s offering was rejected.
Newfoundland figures spoke out against Anderson and PETA by hurling personal barbs back at the celebrities. I fail to see the point of criticizing An d e r s o n’s profession/history in retaliation to her efforts; shame on you Gerry Byrne and Mark Critch.
The debate has now drawn international attention as Facebook and Twitter have blazed with opinions regarding the hunt and the more objectified personalities engaged. I heard one New York resident call Newfoundlanders backward hicks, implying our impermeability to reason.
While I’m sure this individual has visited the province and realizes just how comparable we are to Yosemite Sam, I must disagree.
Regardless of the personal attacks, this issue requires a real debate that is informed by fact.
The seal hunt is heavily regulated to ensure humane killing methods of matured seals, not the revered white coats. What Anderson, Heather Mills and other PETA advocates do not realize is seals are no longer killed with clubs; rather guns, which is more than we can say for the cattle or poultry industries.
Unfortunately for sealers, the reality is there is a weak market for seal products, especially given the disdain from the European Union. However, given the right institutional support, a domestic market for these products could be sustained.
My personal disappointment with the attacks on the seal hunt is lack of informed debate and decision-making that underpins consumer perception.
I would suggest that those hurling hateful condemnations towards the province ensure their claims are supported by reality and that they are aware of alternate lifestyles to their own; some in Newfoundland may make a more modest income, but that certainly does not categorize us all as back- ward hicks.
To the brave sealers of the province: be proud of your labors, they are appreciated by we who recognize your hard work.
These attacks are but a passing trend and the politics of today will surely shift when a new target presents itself.
In the meantime, we should refrain from engaging in personal arguments and meaningless displays of popularity; cooler heads will prevail.
— Kyle White is a geography student at Memorial University
and writes from Old Perlican.