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Stan Oliver: The facts are the facts

Stan's Stance
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The facts are the facts, as far as I am concerned, and are undisputable - but then again, I maybe a little bit bias, as I still from time to time participate for the purposes of acquiring a meal.

There is an extremely dedicated and enthusiastic group of hunters (primarily from North West River) that can’t wait until spring so they can take part in the annual traditional seal hunt.

“DFO wishes to advise that the season for Ringed Seals in Area 4 (Upper Lake Melville area) opens April 21, 2018.” This was the Department of Fisheries and Oceans media release issued on April 16/2018.

More from Stan Oliver:

Effects go beyond

Thoughts of Silence

Looking forward

For countless hunters, Canada’s seal hunt, or sealing, is a way of life and a valuable food and income supplement for those who exist in remote coastal communities. However, the constant efforts of anti-sealing groups and the existing European Union ban on imports of Canadian seal products continues to threaten this traditional way of life. The commercial seal hunt can represent from 25 to 35 per cent of a sealers total annual income; hence, it is a very significant economic contributor to communities with limited economic opportunities. Statistics and available data show that the seal hunt historically (for areas such as Nunavut) estimates the value to be somewhere in the vicinity of $ 5 to 6 million each year. But seals are not just for the commercial sale of fur. 

In addition to the economic value, if you never tried seal meat (some say it’s similar to beef but carries its own unique taste that can take some getting used to), here are a couple of facts and reasons why the consumption of seal meat is good for you and a healthy choice:

  • Most farm raised animals (cows and pigs for instance) live a very sedentary lifestyle and are usually higher in fat contentfor the sole purpose of increasing bulk. On the other spectrum, wild game like seals tend to be much more active thus resulting in a meat that is much leaner with less fat. For seals, it’s about two per cent.
  • Seals contain Omega3. Omega-3 have been successfully linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and can often aid in the battle against certain types of arthritis.
  • Seal meat is a pleasing and one of the best sources of Iron. One serving of seal can contain approximately 35.5 (mg) or 250 per cent of the medically recommended daily intake of iron.
  • Looking to the futureresearchers are also investigating the possibility of using harp seal valves as replacements for the human heart valve.

While it is very important for us as indigenous harvesters and more importantly as Canadians, (because we can be open when expressing a dissenting opinion), to respect an individual’s choice to support or oppose the seal hunt, this decision should be based on the real facts.

“Than people are able to formulate their own opinion.”

Some of the real facts are: Canada’s seal hunt is well managed and is humane, with rigorous animal welfare principles that are internationally recognized by independent observers. The European Food Safety Authority, in a 2007 report, concluded the approved methods used to harvest seals in Canada is humane. The Canadian seal harvest is also sustainable. The Atlantic harp seal population is very healthy and the current numbers are abundant, estimated to be in the vicinity of six million animals. Canada is also committed to enforcing the seal harvest regulations to the fullest extent of the law and further interacts regularly with the sealing industry to make sure sealers fully understand and carry out their obligations under the licence conditions and regulations.

Many in this province will remember the former provincial/federal politician and cabinet minister (Hon. John Efford) when he jokily stated, “sure they are not eating turnips!” What he was referring to was, that there are so many seals, that they must be having a negative impact on other ocean species (i.e. capelin and cod), thus are attributing to the decline of some very important commercial fish. In my humble opinion, however, crude or not-John Efford was 100 per cent correct. This debate still goes on today.

From all intelligences, the government of Canada continues to fight this battle and where appropriate reiterates its pledge to defend the Canadian sealing industry and the coastal/northern communities which still depend on the seal hunt on many levels. 

Thanks for reading my column and if you have ideas and or comments please feel free to e-mail directly at

Cheers from Central Labrador

Stan Oliver lives and works in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

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