An overview of the Newfoundland sealing industry, the animal rights movement and resource management issues currently facing the Newfoundland seal fishery

Daley, Christopher C. (1999) An overview of the Newfoundland sealing industry, the animal rights movement and resource management issues currently facing the Newfoundland seal fishery. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The seal harvest has played a major role in the cultural and economic development of Newfoundland for hundreds of years. Despite these benefits, the future of the harvest is conditional on the international communities’ support or condemnation. In continuing efforts to do what they think is right for seals, and/or the sealing industry, animal rights groups, sealers, and provincial and federal governments argue their cases based on some mix of moral rights, ethnic survival, economic value or scientific evidence. – This report examines the history and ideology of both pro- and anti-sealing groups in an attempt to comprehend the many issues currently facing the Newfoundland sealing industry. The role of other stakeholders, especially fisheries scientists, is explored to clarity the positions taken by both sides and to identify what is required to allow the Newfoundland seal harvest to continue. – The Newfoundland sealing industry continues to provide incomes for harvesters and processing employees in the season where few, if any, alternative sources of employment are available. Deeply rooted in the heritage and culture of its people, the sealing industry plays a key role in preserving outport Newfoundland. While animal rights groups threaten to remove this integral part of native Newfoundlanders lives, it is important to understand the humane and conservation concerns advanced by these groups. While those opposed to the hunt are physically removed from it, they have the power to influence the international community and markets which determine much of the industry’s future. The condemnation and arrest of those who break the regulations appear to be effective in changing the conduct of the harvest. Initiatives to professionalize the fishery through education and training have helped to address these concerns. The Canadian Sealers Association and the sealers themselves are crucial to ensuring the success of these initiatives. Fisheries science continues to develop management and harvesting policies that address the concerns of all interested parties. Seal population sustainability continues to be based on management objectives and market considerations. This direction is both biologically wise and widely supported in the international community, while locally there are mixed feelings. The request for additional funding from industry and government is critical to maintain and improve fisheries science for seals so that their future sustainability is protected with the use of new measures such as individual quotas, as one means to avoid exceeding catch limits. International cooperation continues in the management of seal populations that cross international boundaries. In addition to this informed management process, the international community must be provided with clear and accurate information. The continuation of educational programs promoted on a national level may assist in improving relationships with those who oppose the hunt. A consensus on the economic value of the sealing industry by animal rights groups and both levels of the Newfoundland and Canadian governments is required if the public is to be accurately informed. At this point the Newfoundland sealing industry appears to have developed to a stage where the harvest can be justified based on its dedication to sound fisheries management and scientific advice.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/10372
Item ID: 10372
Additional Information: Bibliography: pages 53-55.
Department(s): Marine Institute
Date: 1999
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Animal rights movement--Newfoundland and Labrador; Fishery policy--Newfoundland and Labrador; Sealing--Newfoundland and Labrador.

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