14 March 2006

More seal crap

This article from the Toronto Star is by Rebecca Aldworth, who lived in Newfoundland and now works for the HSUS.

Her piece is appropriately titled "A betrayal of the facts".

For example, she subscribes to a goofball theory that by not killing seals, we can promote cod recovery. It's an interesting concept given that seals are a high level predator in the ocean food chain and prey, among other things on the cod and the stuff that cod would prey on...if there were lots of cod. In the article linked here, Aldworth refers to seals preying on creatures that prey on cod. Sadly, the link doesn't actually say anything about that.

What it does do is discuss the merits and demerits of the argument for a seal cull and its impact on cod populations.

Too bad no one is talking about culling seals to save cod anymore. The reason? The ocean ecosystem is to complex to make such a facile claim that culling cod will allow seals to recover. At the same time, there isn't much reason to believe Aldworth's claim that not killing seals would let cod recover. Cod, it would seem, are actually red herring in this whole fish and cod mess.

In The Star, Aldworth makes a big deal about the fact that 99% of seals killed offshore eastern Canada each year are:
"just two months of age or less. Over the past five years, the majority of the seals killed have been younger than 1 month old. At the time of slaughter, many of these pups had yet to eat their first solid meal or take their first swim - hardly "adult" seals by anyone's standards."

But here's some relevant information, Bec didn't see fit to tell the readers of her article:

Newborn pups are about 85 cm long, weigh about 11 kg and are yellowish in colour. In about 3 days, the fur turns to a fluffy white from which the pups derive the name "whitecoats". Young harp seals rank among the fastest growing and most precocious of young mammals. They are nursed for about 12 days and then abandoned by their mothers. During this period they more than triple their weight on milk which contains up to 45% fat (compared to 4% for cow's milk). When weaned, pups weigh an average of 35 kg. More than half of this weight is fat in the form of blubber.

You read that correctly. Pups are weaned after a mere 12 days and then left by their mothers to fend for themselves. When the sealers reach the ice floes, the seals are in a transitional phase maturing into independent adult seals - they definitely aren't pups anymore, and that's what made Aldworth's little stunt with the McCartney's fundamentally misleading.

But forgetting all that, my favourite part of Becky's article was the bit where she mentioned Sir Paulie McCartney's license buy-back scheme.

An interesting concept.

Except that the buy-back would have to be federally funded.

Apparently Sir Paul must have been a little short on cash the week he was in Prince Edward island - thinking he was in Newfoundland.

Otherwise, wouldn't Sir Paulie's great big idea have more credibility if Paul took some of his spare change and endowed a fund, managed by a reputable Canadian agency to support just such a buy-back concept?

The problem with that idea?

Putting in place a workable, fully-funded scheme and ending the seal hunt isn't really what the annual March Madness is about for groups like HSUS.


It's about raising cash for their own coffers.

It's actually more lucrative for Aldworth and HSUS to orchestrate a boycott they claim is taking hundreds of millions from the fishermen they want to quit sealing, and run expensive radio spots on local radio pressuring Newfoundlanders and Labradorians rather than create a fund that would give fishermen a credible financial alternative to the activity HSUS opposes.

Aside from a few facts Aldworth neglected to include, the real betrayal in her article is not about facts.

It's a betrayal of integrity.

h/t to Mike and Dean's Cross border rant