Opinion Letters

Seal hunt facts right on target

(Re: 'Seal hunt part of development' in the Jan. 27 edition of the Examiner)

Robert Cahill, of the Fur Institute of Canada, calls into question the facts contained in my recent letter, dismissing me as "a noted activist opposing the use of animals for any reason."

I am, in fact, a Canadian citizen who volunteers my time to represent the views of the overwhelming majority of Canadians, whereas Mr. Cahill is a paid lobbyist for the highly controversial and heavily subsidized Fur Institute of Canada.

I can assure Mr. Cahill that my information comes directly from federal government sources such as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The latter agency confirmed to me that the certification of seal meat is being handled entirely by the fish program, and seal meat for export to China is to be processed through a federally registered fish plant. Fish inspection protocols are used to process seals because it is the cheap and simple option and avoids seal carcasses being condemned and deemed unsafe for consumption by veterinary inspectors.

Using fish inspection protocols for mammals known to carry diseases raises serious public health concerns. I can only assume the Canadian government sees fit to send possibly tainted meat to unsuspecting Chinese consumers because, as government and industry stated last year, 'the Chinese will eat anything'.

Mr. Cahill seems unaware that a few years ago the federal government issued to Inuit hunters a guidebook entitled Diseases and Parasites of Marine Mammals of the Eastern Arctic which detailed infectious diseases found in marine mammals and not, incidentally, found in fish.

A similar guidebook has never been issued to Atlantic sealers and many sealers remain unaware the carcasses they handle could cause serious health issues for them.

DFO's Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat's research document entitled 'Update of the 2009 Summer Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy Research Vessel Survey' clearly shows an increase in fish stocks in waters heavily populated by grey seals from Hay Island and Sable Island. DFO has been unable to state categorically seals negatively impact fish stocks.

Conversely, DFO now has a strong indication a heavy seal presence is aiding in fish stock recovery. These findings coincide with an United States-based science research article entitled The Whale Pump: Marine Mammals Enhance Primary Productivity in a Coastal Basin, which details the beneficial role marine mammals play in our marine ecosystems, boosting overall productivity.

My information comes directly from the source.

Perhaps Mr. Cahill will do me the courtesy of checking his facts before he calls my credibility into question.

Bridget Curran Halifax

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