Friday, February 22, 2008

CANADIAN SEAFOOD BOYCOTT IN FULL SWING

Author: Robert Strong

Since the start of the seal slaughter last March 2005, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has been campaigning for a boycott of Canadian seafood exports to halt Canada's yearly massacre of hundreds of thousands of seals for their fur.

Recently, some 300 seafood restaurants and companies have supported HSUS's boycott, from the culinary world-famous--Chefs Rocco Dispirito, David Pasternack and Rick Moonen--to trendy bistros across the U.S. --B.E.D, Postrio, and Tavern on the Green.

HSUS senior vice president Dr. John W. Grandy said, ""The boycott is clearly having an impact in Canada...HSUS has noted that Canadian snow crab imports to the U.S. have dropped by over US$150 million--nearly 10 times the value of the seal hunt and a 36 percent drop since the seafood boycott began. The Canadian government and its fishing industry need to decide whether maintaining a seal hunt is worth the cost to the country.""

Sixty-six percent of Canada's seafood exports go to the US, producing some $2.8 billion annually for their economy - making Canadian fishing industry a viable target for a boycott.

Last year's hunt, with more than 300,000 baby seals slaughtered, is the largest killing of marine mammals in the world to date. During the hunt, the pups are clubbed or shot to death primarily for their skins, while many are still alive and conscious. The U.S. has long banned imports of seal products, but the high demand for sealskins in Europe as a fashion accessory presents a reason for the sealers to take to the ice every spring to kill as many seals as they can.

U.S. seafood distributors are asking their Canadian counterparts to use their influence to stop the commercial seal hunt. ""I urge Canadians to act now to stop this slaughter before it is too late, before the good name of Canada is further tarnished,"" said Ed Taylor of Down East Seafood, a major distributor in New York City.

""It is incomprehensible to me that the Canadian government continues to allow this senseless slaughter to continue,"" said Tom Worthington of the Monterey Fish Company. ""We must all work together to send a message that Canada must end this hunt in order to save the reputation of the seafood industry there.""

Sealing is an off-season activity carried out by Canada's East Coast fishermen and it only contributes a small part to the economy. In Newfoundland, where almost all the sealers live, sealing income accounts for less than one percent of Newfoundland's gross domestic product.

What You Can Do to Make the Canadian Seafood Boycott a Success

Here are a few things you can do to ensure the campaign's success:

Contact your local restaurants, distributors, and grocery stores that have yet to join the boycott. Politely ask them to help protect seals by limiting or eliminating the sale or use of Canadian seafood.

Thank the restaurants, chefs, grocery stores, and other companies that have already promised to limit or eliminate purchases of Canadian seafood. They are all making a difference.

Spread the word to your friends, family, and co-workers. Send e-mail messages to bulletin boards and forums. Also tell your friends and family about the boycott.

About the author: Robert Strong is an active environmentailist living in North Vancouver BC.

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