Hong Kong should take a stand against inhumane slaughter of seals in Canada

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2012, 12:00am

I refer to the letter by Jean-Francois Tremblay ('In defence of seal hunts in Canada', March 14).

Your correspondent is correct about only one thing, the harp seals are not endangered at this point in time. However, this issue is not about conservation - it's about cruelty.

The seals are not killed humanely to feed a family. They are bludgeoned to death, often ineffectively, stripped of their skin and their carcasses left to rot on the ice floes.

When people make the comparison with farm animals, it is prudent to remind them that if we were to bludgeon 300,000 sheep in a field, causing many to die slowly, skin them and leave their bodies to waste, there would be a similar outcry.

Repeated studies have concluded that the field environment makes it impossible for sealers to apply humane killing techniques in an effective or consistent way.

The end product of a seal-fur trimmed coat is a luxury item and it is not a basic human right.

As for the comment of the workforce which performs the seal hunt - this seasonal work makes up less than 5 per cent of their annual pay, with most of them fishermen by trade.

In terms of fish, another argument that keeps arising is the idea that declining cod stocks are attributable to the harp seals, therefore culling is warranted.

This is incorrect according to the Canadian department of fisheries and oceans and even the Canadian government is clear that the hunt is not an attempt to bring the fish stocks back.

The Canadian commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on earth and, for Hong Kong, it's of no commercial significance - the economic impact of seal fur here is practically negligible.

The European Union has recognised the inhumane nature of the fur seal hunt and listened to public opinion. It banned all products of the hunt in 2009.

For the industry to survive, it is turning its attention to China and Hong Kong.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals believes that Hong Kong is a moral, ethical and compassionate society and should be aware of the role it plays in sustaining this unnecessary cruelty.

It is important that we make a statement to the rest of the world that we are a humane society.

Sandy Macalister, executive director, SPCA, Hong Kong

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