Letter to the editor -
The more I listen to the news lately the more frustrated I get. Every time I listen to the radio or TV, or read newspapers, there is always another nail driven into the coffin of rural NL and mostly by our own Provincial Government. For two years in a row we have had a disaster in the seal hunt, that was caused mostly by the so called animal rights groups, that have used the seal hunt as a cash cow which is one of the best fundraisers in the world and they are able to do it because the bleeding hearts around the world have listened to their lies that the seal herds are in danger of extinction.
It's not the seals that are in trouble, it's the fish in the ocean that are in trouble because of the rapid expansion in the seal herds the last 30 years, so therefore our rural communities which depend so strongly on the ocean for survival is heading for extinction.
For years we have been criticized for harvesting seals for skins and throwing away the meat. I have listened to the CBC Fisheries Broadcast on two occasion where a Mr. Todd Young, one of the owners of a fish plant in Woody Point being interviewed by John Furlong, this fish plant got a market overseas for seal meat this year and purchased 6,000 seals for that market but when he tried to sell the pelts, which he had a market for, was stopped from doing so by none other than our own Provincial Depatment of Fisheries and when Minister Jackman was interviewed by John Furlong made the statement, "we came in with was a policy a couple of years ago that we would not allow any seal skins to be exported without being fully processed" and his reason for that is we want to make sure that seal skins going into the market place are top quality.
I have been sealing for a long time and 95 per cent of my skins have been graded before they are bought by the processor, approximately 10 grades and the quality will follow them into the market place and seal skins like all kind of animal skins are sold on the market and the price paid for each skin depends on the quality of the skin, there is no way you can get all top quality skins so therefore the Minister's argument doesn't stand up.
For two years there have been very few seals harvested because of the lost markets, the seals are rapidly increasing each year, our fish stocks are getting scarcer each year; you don't have to be very smart to figure out what is going to happen in the ocean. We have upset the balance of nature in the ocean by fishing most everything to a very low number and at the same time allowing our seal population to increase from the historicity two million in the early 1900s to what are estimated to be between eight - 10 million today. Even if we stopped fishing today, we will not rebuild our oceans without dealing with the exploding seal population.
The fish plant in Woody Point is not going to be able to develop a market for seal meat if they are not allowed to sell the skins. The Minister, instead of stopping this plant from selling these seal skins, should be doing everything in his power to help them out so that this company can develop this market, which will benefit the ocean by removing the seal which has become a pest in our oceans and also providing much needed work for the sealers and the plant workers in our rural communities.
It's been proven in our history that small family owned businesses, including fish plants, are the backbone of rural NL because the owners are living in and are part of the community.
For many years we have sold seal skins and thrown away the meat. Now that we have a market for seal meat, we are throwing away the skins - will we ever get it right?
So Minister Jackman, do the right thing, let this plant operator sell the skins that he has a market for or else the Department should reimburse the plant for the money that they would be losing.
It's time for this Government to realize there is life outside the overpass and that the oil will not last forever.