Our lips are not sealed

The Compass - - OPINION -

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.

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