Seal control: Fishing industry fears consumer backlash
A parliamentary committee examined the impact of huge seal herds on fish stocks.
Canada's seafood industry is urging Ottawa to exercise “extreme caution” when considering measures to control the growing seal population. She warns the federal government that these measures could jeopardize market access and acceptance of Canadian seafood products.
But, according to the Conservative critic on fisheries, Clifford Small, an MP from Newfoundland and Labrador, these concerns are overstated.
The issue was raised by a parliamentary committee that reviewed the impact of huge seal herds on fish stocks.
A whitecoat is resting on the ice floe.
Many people say seals are to blame for the slow recovery of some groundfish species and call for a cull.
It is extremely important that the actions taken by the government do not impede market access or the acceptance of Canadian fish and seafood products, both domestically and internationally, warned Paul Lansbergen , President of the Fisheries Council of Canada.
The Council represents major harvesting and processing companies in the wild-fishing sector.
I can't stress this enough because it could have a serious impact on the coastal communities that depend on our sector, Lansbergen told MPs on Thursday.
Paul Lansbergen indicated that the United States and the European Union have strict rules regarding harm to marine mammals during fishing.
A violation could block access to markets . In 2021, Canadian seafood exports to the United States were valued at $6 billion.
Paul Lansbergen, President of the Fisheries Council of Canada.
La National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NAOA) is currently reviewing Canadian fishing practices to ensure the protections in place are comparable to those in the United States, as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Paul Landsergen told MPs there was another potential source of trouble.
In terms of market acceptance, some Canadian importers and buyers do not want to be tied to companies or countries associated with the sealing industry. The government must exercise extreme caution so as not to compromise the effectiveness of our products for current customers of Canadian seafood companies, he stipulated.
Tory MP Clifford Small is skeptical.
He says whaling nations have not been deprived of market access, citing Norway, Iceland and Japan, all members of the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO).
There have been no sanctions from these countries for hunting whales, seals, puffins, whatever, claims Clifford Small.
How real can the sanctions on our seafood products be when other NAFO countries hunt whales and are not sanctioned?
An important distinction would be the intention to protect marine mammals while you harvest other fish and seafood, proposed Paul Lansbergen.
As we catch fish and seafood, we are not harming other marine mammals in the process which would meet the rules of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, he says.
During the hearing, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officials acknowledged that seals eat large amounts of fish, but added that they are working to fill in the gaps regarding their impact on species of fish.
DFO has linked the disappearance of cod in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2019 to a rapid increase in the seal population.
The warning was contained in an Atlantic cod stock assessment.
In a statement to CBC, DFO noted a recent seal summit that brought together Indigenous peoples, scientists and industry representatives to explore the ethical seal hunt that uses all animals and other opportunities for Canadian seal products.
Decisions about the health and welfare of mammals must be based on science not only to preserve the health of our ecosystems, but also to comply with the provisions of international trade policy. Therefore, it is essential that we continue to make responsible management decisions using the best available science to protect Canada's fisheries and the livelihoods of fishers, said the office of Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
Based on a report by Paul Withers, CBC< /em>