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SEAL KILL HOME
CANADIAN HARP SEAL SLAUGHTER
"Those who support the theory that seals are destroying the fish are only exposing their ignorance of ecological systems. The reasoning that less seals will result in more fish or that more seals will deplete existing fish populations is an unscientific belief because it is a belief not backed by observation or data.
Seals are essential element in maintaining a state of ecological stability. The ocean is a complex, living environment that has evolved since the beginning of the planet. In our present state of evolution, the natural world we live in has found a key role for marine mammals in marine habitats. The issue of harp seals cannot be seperated from the issue of the long-term future health of the oceans.
The seal slaughter is a contributing factor to the overall ecological crises now taking place. Other major factors directly damaging the marine environment are destruction of spawning areas; over fishing by commercial trawlers, especially vessels of feoreign registry; waste dumping of oil, chemicals, and sewage; and the slaughter of other marine mammals such as whales and dolphins. The synergistic, or combined, effects of all these different sources of ecological disruption are having a catastrophic impact.
The life that thrives in the oceans has a critical influence on the overall health of the ocean system. The great herds of seals are a life force whose influence on the health of the ocean can be recognized once the complexities of the food chain are investigated and understood.
When harp seals eat in herds, the return massive amounts of nutrients in the form of fecal material, which feeds the plankton, which feed the fish, which in turn feed the seals. The removal of this nutrient base would be critical to the health of plankton and fish populations.
The migrating seal herds, and other marine mammals, move nutrient wealth in a way no other force can: in giant north-south loops and from great depths to the surface. By going through regular periods of gorging and feasting, seals provide large amounts of nutrients at key times of the year. The combination of the seal supplied nutrients in the area where the Labrador Current meets the Gulf Stream of Mexico is responsible for the great fish grounds of the Grand Banks. Reference to the logs of captain Jacques Cartier, Samuel de Champlain, and John Cabot illustrate that at the time of the greatest number of seals prior to European exploitation, the fish were so abundant that Cabot described the Grand Banks as "so swarming with fish that they could be taken but in baskets let down with a stone."
Plankton, the smallest animals in the ocean, require organic matter and sunlight to grow. Once the sun reaches a high enough point in the sky in the northern lattitudes so that sufficient sunlight is available to the plankton, the seals arrive and begin to eat and defacate, releasing the needed supply of nutrients. Plankton cannot eat fish, but they can consume fecal material as it is broken down into nutrients. The plankton then provides for krill and up the food chain through the fish and back to the seal.
An analogy that helps to understand the role of the seal herds in the ocean is that of trees in a forest. A healthy forest can be viewed as being dependent on a healthy soil. The soil is made up of minerals that come from rock, and organic material from trees. Without the rocks or the trees there would be soil and no forest. The impact of clear-cuts is well known. Once the trees are taken away, a desert is left behind. In a similiar manner, taking seals out of the ocean environment takes away an important source of organic material to the plankton, and thus leaves a relatively sterile environment behind.
To suggest that seals threaten the ocean is to suggest that trees threaten the forest." *
In the usual political manners and traditions, this explanation, of course, was dismissed by the commission...
* (Excerpted word for word with permission from Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society from the book entitled "Seal Wars- Twenty Five Years on the Front Lines with the Harp Seals"- Key Portor Books, Copyright 2002, Paul Watson)