Does NL need a seal slaughter? It depends on which political party you are asking

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The seal hunt has long been debated, perhaps not more famously than when Prime Minister Danny Williams and Paul McCartney appeared on Larry King Live in 2006. (NOAA Fisheries)

The crab found in the stomachs of seals reopens a debate on the need for seal slaughter.

While politicians from all walks of life say something needs to be done to reduce animal predation on fish stocks, there is no consensus on the best approach.

CBC News was invited to see – sometimes in graphic detail – crab that had been eaten by seals off Fleur de Lys. Plant owner Brad Rideout, after slicing through the stomach of a bearded seal and describing the various parts of its contents, called the unharvested crab “wasted money”.

Rideout was more than happy to have media on the wharf, to try and draw attention to what he said was a major problem – that seals play a huge role in slowing the growth of stocks of weak crab.

Fisheries Minister Elvis Loveless said more research was needed before even addressing the subject of seal culling. (Ariana Kelland / CBC)

So what should be done about it? It depends on which political party you are asking.

Seal killing “should be discussed”: Crosbie

Progressive Conservative leader Ches Crosbie has said his first choice will be a bigger seal hunt.

“Previously, people ate seals. And now it can be said that seals eat people – at least they eat people’s livelihoods,” he said.

He admits that a seal cull would be a dramatic step, one that carries the almost guaranteed risk of angering many people who are openly opposed to the seal hunt. Most famous, Paul McCartney, then Prime Minister Danny Williams faced off on CNN Larry King Live in 2006 on the seal hunt.

“I am not responding to CNN. I am responding to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador,” Crosbie said.

“And if we have to talk about the killing of seals and if that is what is needed to bring the federal government to the attention of the seal issue and the consumption of valuable seals, then it is why we need to talk about it. “

A “healthy plan” is necessary, according to the Minister of Fisheries

Fisheries Minister Elvis Loveless agrees there must be a better plan to reduce predators in fish stocks. However, he berated Crosbie for his political bluster.

“I’m not going to sit here… to make a strong political statement, because I want to get votes – unlike what Ches Crosbie and the PC Party are doing,” he said, accusing the Conservatives of trying. to score points in the still. -election not resolved.

“I’m not going to do this. It’s disrespectful and irresponsible, I believe, to the voter and the people in this industry. We need a solid plan.”

What do seals eat? Debate revived by the discovery of crab in seal stomach

Reports by Garrett Barry of Fleur de Lys, where a local company is convinced seals are harming crab fishing 2:43

The first step in this plan? More research, he says.

“We have to do more with science again… And when we have better science, we make better decisions about this resource and / or any resource within the fishing industry,” Loveless said.

Loveless said everyone in the fishing industry, including the federal government, must be seated at the table for any plan to have any chance of success.

NDP MP Jim Dinn said a slaughter could be “an incredible waste of a creature.”

He said that kind of talk would only further damage the reputation of the seal industry.

Natasha Rideout, left, and Brad Rideout, right, examine the stomach contents of a bearded seal on a dock in Fleur de Lys. (Garrett Barry / CBC)

“I prefer to think in terms of harvesting an animal from a population as long as it can be sustained. And how do you turn that into job creation for the local for the local economy? markets, ”he said. .

Dinn said any expansion of the seal hunt should focus on maintaining jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador, and added that the provincial government can play an important role in boosting an industry.

“The government has a role,” he said. “If they can do it for aquaculture, they can certainly do it for local fishermen, local communities and local industry.

Read more about CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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