Updated: Jun 17
The idea of a seal management plan should appeal to all Newfoundland and Labrador MPs – considering 7.6 million harps alone are eating fishermen out of house and home — but six of the province's 7 representatives in Ottawa have turned their backs on the idea. Instead, they're happy with a seal summit in the fall — possibly as a way to bore the creatures to death.
DFO NL has said seals don't have an impact on crab stocks, but this video taken on March 5th, 2021 of the stomach contents of a seal harvested off St. Anthony says otherwise.
MPs Seamus O’Regan, Gudie Hutchings, Churence Robers, and Joanne Thompson voted against Bill C-251, while Yvonne Jones did not vote. In fact, starting with the Prime Minister, every single Liberal MP from Quebec/Eastern Canada voted against the bill/abstained.
The province’s lone Opposition MP, Conservative Clifford Small, was behind the private members’ bill, which called on DFO to develop management plans for pinnipeds — including seals, sea lions, and walruses on the East and West coasts and Northern Canada.
SEA-NL had called on the province's MPs to vote for the bill, describing it as a make-or-break political moment when they must decide whether they represent NL in Ottawa or the other way around.
They made their choice.
GUDIE ON OPEN LINE
MP Gudie Hutchings was on VOCM OpenLine this morning answering questions about why she voted against the seal bill — mentioning the $30-million cost of an annual seal census, which the bill called for.
$30 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the millions of tonnes of a fish a year consumed by 9 million seals in Eastern Canada, including 7.6 million harps, 600,000 hooded seals, 425,00+ grey seals, and an unknown number of ring and bearded seals.
Gudie also said Ottawa must be careful there are no significant impacts to trade.
But then the U.S. is Canada's largest trading partner, as well as Iceland's — and Iceland has commercial hunts for whales and seals.
Norway is the second largest exporter of fish to the U.S., and that country also has commercial seal and whale hunts.
Cheap Russian crab floods the American and Asian markets, and Russians hunt whales and kill scores of people every day in the Ukraine.
Where is the logic?
DFO does not estimate the amount of shrimp, caplin, crab, cod, etc. consumed by harp seals.
DFO science used to produce such numbers, but stopped years ago. As a result, the impact of 7.6 million harp seals isn't factored into various scientific assessments.
All three codfish stocks adjacent to Newfoundland and Labrador are classified by DFO scientists as in the “critical” zone, as is northern shrimp in Area 6 off southern Labrador and northeastern Newfoundland.
While the biomass of snow crab has increased in recent years, it remains near the lowest levels recorded since the mid-1990s.
Executive Director, SEA-NL
To read more about SEA-NL, or to join the non-profit organization please visit sea-nl.ca