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UN ban on seal products - a success for activists

According to an article by Brendan O'Neill in The Australian 13th March, animal activists are thought to be generally caring, ethical and "pure" people, but should remain basically maudlin and ineffective. However, if they actually become a political force they are accused of being a big "threat" and guilty of political blackmail and coercion!

Over one and a quarter million seal pups have been clubbed or shot to death over the last four years during Canada's annual seal slaughter.

Last week 30 Canadian senators, MPs and provincial ministers tucked into a meal of seal meat in the parliamentary dining room in Ottawa in protest against European opposition to Canada's annual seal cull. European Parliament made history when it voted overwhelmingly to ban trade in seal products.

Around 6000 Canadians take part in seal hunting each year along the Atlantic coast, and 25 per cent of their sales came from exporting products to Europe. Ottawa authorises the slaughter of 338,000 seals per season and says the survival of the species is not in danger. But it has faced fierce protests from animal rights groups who say the slaughter is barbaric.

Some fishermen believe that the seals preferentially dine on the nutrient-rich livers and bellies of the cod, leaving the rest to go to waste and requiring more fish to be killed to make a meal. Whales Wars' Captain Paul Watson says that's absurd, and has offered $50,000 to anyone who can provide video evidence of the practice. According to a study by Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans cod are preyed upon by seals at various stages in their life cycle, and also squid, minke whales, halibut, and other cod.

Still, the presence of large apex predators like seals are typically a sign of a healthy and productive ecosystem, and human fishing activity – whether it targets North Atlantic cod or bluefin tuna – is the reason for the collapse of fish stocks worldwide.

If seals were taken out of the picture, the population of squid might well explode, just like giant jelly fish numbers have exploded due to warmer waters and overfishing, and other human activities that have opened windows of opportunity for them to prosper.

The ban of seal skins may have serious consequences for the living standards of some Canadian communities. However, the means, of killing new-born seal pups in front of their mothers, does not justify the end.

The population growth rate of Canada, largely due to immigration, is higher than most industrial countries, and automatically increases human consumption of natural resources. Their east coast cod fisheries and reduction of salmon fishing in Pacific waters no longer contributes adequately to the well being of 6.8 billion people world wide.  Seals are being made a scapegoats for over-eating fish, when it is humans who are guilty.

According to the article, the EU isn't alone. More nations and international institutions now lecture apparently inferior foreigners through the animal issue. Its aim is to assert its moral and ethical authority over what it clearly considers to be a less enlightened nation, and what better way to do that than through protecting cute seals from spike-wielding madmen?. So protecting seal cubs is more about political power and moral superiority than empathy and compassion? Really!

Seals and their pups do not owe swelling human populations a living, and this atrocity is morally unsustainable and unethical.   If animal activists just remained "pure", silent and innocent, then their cries of cruelty would remain ineffective.

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Brendan O'Neill does have a habit of repeating himself and readers of this article in "The Australian" would be excused for thinking they have heard it all before. In 2010 it seems that "the seal has become the poster boy of miserabilist, misanthropic greenies everywhere" Sounds like someone is not too happy with the seal ban in the EU. It also turns out O'Neill wasn't too happy about the attention the polar bear was getting during the last US election campaign either. The plight of the polar bear was described as "an anthropomorphic story every bit as daft as Bambi in which the polar bear has become a symbolic victim of man's wanton destruction of the planet. The polar bear has become the poster boy of the green lobby"

Sound familar?

His opinions on overpopulation are probably already known to many who feel strongly about this issue. O'Neill's website may also raise the eyebrows of any person with an ounce of empathy for animals. Check out some of their pro-vivisection articles. It will probably come as no surprise that spiked-online is sponsored by companies such as Pfizer and Exxon - so much for independant thought.

This is an amazing feat for the seal activists, marine conservations and those who aren't afraid to pipe up about this issue. The slaughter is hugely barbaric - and the fact that senators chose to consume the meat... That is beyond having a conscience! It really cannot be taken for granted that the EU banned the seal products, namely the fur. Activists and groups really appreciate this ban. In fact, the sealers failed to make a profit in recent seasons, because of the ban in place. They don't gain or earn more that a few AU cents, so it isn't even for this supposed reason they continue to hunt. Indigenous sealers didn't kill this number of seals, so that can hardly remain an excuse to seal today. Also, the hunters are not indigenous Canadians themselves, often out-of-work fisherman blaming native seals for the loss of certain fish or cod.