Target: Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Goal: Stop the proposed plan to kill 70,000 grey seals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence
Before overfishing in the 1990s devastated the population of Canadian Atlantic cod, their numbers once stood at an amount of 1.5 to 2.5 billion. The ban that was subsequently incurred on fishing of the species has since failed to help their numbers recover. Now, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is blaming the absence of these fish, and others like American plaice, winter skate and white hake, on excessive consumption by grey seals. Their logic is that up to 7% of a seal’s diet is cod, with 1-2 tons eaten every year.
Now the Canadian Senate has approved a multimillion dollar plan to kill 70,000 grey seals next year in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with a bounty system as an incentive. Opponents are pointing out a number of flaws in the proposal. Marine scientists from Nova Scotia have stated that “there is no credible scientific evidence to suggest a cull of grey seals in Atlantic Canada would help depleted fish stocks recover.” The effect on cod is in question, with a potentially negative impact being suggested by many experts. Furthermore, some researchers say that cod, in fact, only make up a small part of a grey seal’s diet as they prefer fatty fish (cod having only 1% fat).
These researchers suggest that among the reasons that cod stocks have not been able to recover is the fact that some fisheries continue to catch cod in spite of the ban, along with the ever-present possibility of by-catching. The most popular theory is that other species, such as Northern shrimp, merely filled the cod niche when their numbers declined. Demand that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada be made to see the folly of this plan, which will result in the pointless death of thousands of seals for which no substantial evidence of a cod resurgence is guaranteed.
Dear Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada,
You recently pushed for Canada to hold a grey seal cull in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Your plan would ensure the destruction of 70,000 seals, with the help of a bounty incentive. Your justification for this mass killing is the apparent over-eating of Canadian Atlantic cod by the area’s grey seals. However, the plan’s biggest flaw lies in the lack of any substantial proof that this cull will have any effect on the cod population.
Many other experts and researchers have pointed out that cod actually make up a small part of a grey seal’s diet, and that there are many other factors contributing to the low number of fish. Among these are the continuing fishing of cod by some who have ignored the ban against it, by-catching, and replacement through the growth of alternative species. Please consider the possible negatives that may come about as a result of a cull that has yet to guarantee your desired result. Hundreds of thousands of Canadian harp seals are already slaughtered every year — please do not add yet another species to the senseless massacre.
As you are in a position to decide the fate of your country’s wildlife, avoid cutting corners and continue the research necessary to devise a more reliable plan for bringing back cod.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: spencer77 via Flickr