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Clubbing Baby Seals

New Demand Drives Canada's Baby Seal Hunt

Commercial hunting of baby seals is back and even bigger than when it stirred a global outcry two decades ago.

Now, Canada has lifted the quota to a rate unheard of in a half century, buoyed by new markets in Russia and Poland, and changing environmental calculations. A recovering market has turned into a quiet boom.

... Some prominent environmental groups that opposed the hunt in years past because of concerns over the sustainability of the Canadian harp seal population have dropped their active opposition. Greenpeace, once one of the most active groups against the hunt, now says it is satisfied that Canada is not allowing infant whitecoat seals to be killed.

-- via OxBlog

An excellent example of how cute furry animals get disproportionate environmentalist/animal rights credit from the public. The cuteness factor is the only thing I can think of to explain Canada's ban on clubbing seals before they've shed their first coat, but not after (when they're still babies). This is also the first time I've ever heard of Greenpeace being satisfied with an environmental measure.

The article doesn't really play up the cod issue (the rejuvenated seal population eats too much cod), but I wonder how much that factored into the decisions made by the Canadian government (pressure from the fishing industry and from local communities who want to make money by clubbing seals and by fishing for cod), and by Greenpeace (since they'd want to protect cod as well as seals). The Greenpeace version I doubt a bit more, because the reference point for how many cod there should be is human fishing catch, not the ecological sustainability of the cod species. Greenpeace would be more likely to try to save the cod by eliminating human fishing.


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