Proposal to Kill and Incinerate 80% of Sable Island Seals

5a1 Sable Island grey seal pupThe logic – or should I say skewed thought process in my opinion – is frightening. Because we’ve overfished and depleted the supply, thrown off the balance of nature, the next thing we do is kill the next species in line. It’s not the first time comparable acts have been undertaken, but it is further proof of our seemingly endless and unfettered belief that we get to pillage and take from the earth whatever we want, however we want.

Now because of diminishing cod stocks, the Canadian government’s federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans is considering options to drastically reduce the grey seal population off the Atlantic coast, especially on Sable Island where 80 per cent of the grey seals breed. The world’s largest seal birth place, Sable Island is located approximately 300 kilometres southeast of Nova Scotia. It’s an ecosystem so fragile that the same government only allows about 200 people to visit the Island each year.

According to CBC News, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans believe the estimated 300,000 grey seals “are hurting the recovery of ground fish stocks.” Nature finds a natural balance, always has, always will if left alone. The problems arise when we interfere and alter the balance by placing our needs and wants over and above that balance. We kill or ‘overuse’ too much of one animal and to fix the resulting imbalance we decide to kill another to try to right the ship. But that just throws something else off. And so and so on – like that old TV commercial – ‘…and they tell two friends, who then each tell two friends, and so on and so on…’

ns-sable-sealsSo now we have a report that is considering two options to ‘control’ the grey seal population. Both have direct costs of $20 to $35 million. “One scenario involves giving [possibly shot into them with rifles according to CBC] 15,000 female seals a contraceptive vaccine every year for five years. The second scenario is to shoot 100,000 seals in a year, and 120,000 more over the next four years.”

It’s this second option that is understandably receiving the most press. The gory details are unbelievable to me. “This horrific proposal includes shooting pups with silencer-equipped rifles, loading them onto dump trucks with a specially modified grabber machine, and transporting them to incinerators.” Great idea that, let’s kill 80% of the population and incinerate them because we’ve overfished.

Despite just being declared a National Park, and its remote, sensitive, and protected ecosystem, both of “the proposed scenarios to control the grey seal population would require an influx of work crews and the fuel, machines and shelters to support them.” Gus van Helvoort, spokesman with the DFO, has acknowledged that carrying out the plans would be difficult.

Bit of an understatement if you ask me, but at least these are still just options and not certainties. There is currently a petition available asking the DFO asking to reject the horrific plan.  Hopefully this petition and public outcry will have a stronger effect since a final decision has yet to be made.

5a2 molted Sable Island grey sealAs has explained that, “Culling of marine mammals has never been shown to benefit any commercial fish stock. According to your [DFO] own scientists, the current state of cod stocks is the result of the long-term effects of overfishing – not grey seals. In addition, the DFO National Workshop on the Impacts of Seals on Fish Populations in Eastern Canada concluded that there is no analysis to suggest that fewer grey seals would have a positive effect on fish stock recovery.”

Sure sounds like yet another case of blaming someone else (grey seals this time) for a problem apparently caused by someone else (overfishing by humans). Let’s hope the seals don’t end up paying the ultimate price for this – with their lives.

Watch CBC News Report on the Proposed Seal Slaughter

Summary of petition details:
(Link to petition)

A recent proposal prepared for the Government of Canada would see 220,000 grey seals killed and incinerated in their protected Sable Island nursery.

The proposal reads like a horror novel:
— Hunters would storm the beaches at dawn and begin slaughtering baby seals by shooting them in the head with prohibited silencer-equipped rifles
— The slaughtered seals would then be grabbed by a loader machine specially modified to carry the carcasses.
— They’d be loaded onto dump trucks to be transported to portable incinerators where they’d be burned.
— Each truck would be filled in 10 minutes, and would run 24/7 and for 25 days straight.

To reach the proposed number of 220,000 seals, the cull and disposal program would run at birthing time each year for about five years and cost Canadian taxpayers an estimated $35 million.

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