April 9, 2013
Accomplishments for Seals
Every year we get closer to ending Canada's cruel, commercial seal hunt. See how far we've come.
With the help of our hundreds of thousands of caring supporters, the HSI/HSUS Protect Seals campaign grows ever closer to ending Canada's commercial seal slaughter forever. Here are some of our recent victories.
Taiwan passed a landmark ban on trade in marine mammal products, including seal skins (with an exemption for products of traditional indigenous hunts).
Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone joins the Protect Seals boycott of Canadian seafood adding to the impressive list of celebrities—including Cat Cora, Mario Batali, photographer Nigel Barker, Paul McCartney, Ke$ha, and Jackie Evancho—who have taken a stand with The HSUS against Canada's annual commercial seal slaughter.
The Protect Seals boycott of Canadian seafood passed a new milestone with more than 6,000 establishments boycotting Canadian seafood.
The HSUS's and HSI's seal hunt infographic was shared more than 16,000 times on Facebook and Twitter, exposing an ever larger audience to the need to end this hunt.
Our campaign to close global markets helped to save more than 300,000 baby seals this year. The Canadian government set a commercial quota of 400,000 harp seals, but to date, fewer than 70,000 have been killed because of the lack of demand for seal fur.
Canada's top seal fur buyer, NuTan Furs, Inc., announced that it would no longer process seal skins, and would instead shift its business to other (non-seal) products. The announcement caused a major shakeup in the sealing industry, leading to more speculation that it could be coming to an end.
Within weeks of its February launch, thousands of smartphone users downloaded The HSUS's Protect Seals app, designed to help diners find restaurants near them that are boycotting Canadian seafood. The free mobile app is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Beijing in February, and it was widely reported in Canadian media that he would lobby for an agreement for Canada to export seal meat to China. Our Chinese partners campaigned hard against this, and no deal was reached.
And the February 20 Chefs for Seals party at Farallon Restaurant in San Francisco celebrated the nearly 200 Bay area chefs who are participating in the campaign. At the event, Nigel Barker photographed the three-dozen Bay Area chefs in attendance, including Charlie Ayers, Dominique Crenn, Alan Fairhurst, Emily Luchetti, and Roland Passot.
Russia prohibited imports and exports of harp seal fur, closing one of the few remaining markets for the Canadian sealing industry. Sealing and government representatives reacted immediately, noting that Russia had in some years accounted for 90 percent of seal product exports from Canada. Many questioned the future viability of the commercial sealing industry in light of this development. Canada's second largest seal fur buyer, Carino Company, Ltd., cancelled an order for 100,000 seal furs in 2012, reportedly because of the ban.
A Chefs for Seals party on June 28 celebrated the more than 250 New York chefs who are standing up for seals by boycotting Canadian seafood. The party's success brought much-needed public and media attention to the plight of seals, and to the seafood boycott that aims to stop it.
Thirty of the 2011 James Beard nominees—chefs receiving one of the most prestigious culinary awards in the nation—joined the Protect Seals boycott of Canadian seafood. All 130 restaurants overseen by these culinary superstars participated in the boycott.
The Humane Society of the United States had the pleasure of announcing that 12 of the contestants—including the winner (Richard Blais), the runner-up (Mike Isabella), and the fan favorite (Carla Hall)—from Bravo’s massively popular televison show, "Top Chef All Stars," had joined the Protect Seals boycott of Canadian seafood. Until Canada's sealing industry stops supporting and participating in the annual commercial slaughter of seal pups, these all-star chefs won't buy any seafood from them. The Top Chef team is join thousands of other chefs, restaurants, and grocery stores—including Whole Foods and Trader Joe's—in making this important commitment to seals.
As a result of a segment about the slaughter on CNN's "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell," thousands of people learned about the seal hunt and what they can do to help bring to an end.
HSI and The HSUS traveled to the ice floes off Canada’s east coast to bear witness to the commercial seal slaughter. We documented numerous apparent regulatory violations, exposing the cruelty of the commercial seal slaughter to the world. Our campaign begins now to ensure that the 2012 slaughter of baby seals in Canada never happens.
HSI traveled to Beijing, China, to meet with Chinese government authorities in response to statements made by the Canadian government that a deal had been struck to market edible seal products in China. Authorities assured HSI that no such deal exists, that they had heard the concerns of Chinese residents, and that no processing facility in Canada had been approved to import edible seal products into China.
HSI documented the cruelty of Canada's slaughter of grey seals on Hay Island, a part of the protected Scaterie Island Wilderness Area in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Reduced demand for seal fur this year ensured that nearly 2,000 baby seals survived that slaughter.
Humane Society International sent renowned Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei a letter thanking her for rejecting the cruelty inherent in using seal fur. Guo had initially considered using seal fur in a dress design she was creating for Chinese celebrity Dong Qing; however, online messages of concern began pouring in from around the country from Chinese citizens outraged at the prospect of her using the skin of a baby seal. The renowned designer responded in just a few hours by making the responsible and compassionate decision not to use seal fur in her design, pledging never again to use animal fur in her work.
Canadian Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced that China had lifted a restriction on imports of prepared (cooked) edible seal products, which was reported by Canadian media as a victory for the sealing industry. Forty Chinese groups joined with HSI in issuing a statement in response. Local activists then attended a fur fashion show in Beijing at which Minister Shea was attempting to sell seal products, and distributed hundreds of letters formally requesting that she and her sealing industry colleagues leave China and stop attempting to sell seal products to unsuspecting consumers.
A distinguished group of chefs, celebrities, media, and HSUS donors came together for the third HSUS "Chefs For Seals" event. The event was hosted by Nigel Barker and Cat Cora and celebrated the more than 300 restaurants, grocery stores, and hotels in Southern California that are part of the boycott. Nigel Barker's stunning photographs of young harp seals were on display, and Barker took photos of the chefs and celebrity attendees in his pop-up studio at the party. The event was held at the Montage Beverly Hills; the Montage, one of LA's premiere hotels, is a strong supporter of the boycott and graciously donated its ballroom to us for the evening. The groundswell of support from the hotel, the chefs, the donors, and the celebrities was a testament to the level of opposition to Canada's seal hunt.
In early December, HSI and our Taiwanese partner group EAST held a media conference in Taipei to expose the cruelty of Canada's commercial seal hunt. Several government officials attended the event and confirmed to media that they would seriously consider moving forward with a ban on seal product trade. Many of the top retailers in Taiwan pledged to discontinue sales of seal oil. Twelve television stations covered the conference. HSI also held a media conference in Seoul, South Korea, with our partner group, the Korean Animal Welfare Association, to call for a ban on seal product trade. The media interest was tremendous, with leading news agencies in attendance.
HSI held a landmark press conference in Beijing, China, to expose the cruelty of the Canadian commercial seal hunt. Thirty leading media outlets from China attended and footage of the commercial seal hunt was broadcast nationally. The resulting media coverage sparked a national outcry in China, and multiple calls for a prohibition on seal products. The Patina Restaurant Group pledged to join the Protect Seals seafood boycott. With more than 40 restaurants in Los Angeles and New York, the Patina Group is one of the most influential restaurant groups in America.
Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States applauded a landmark ruling by the president of the European General Court to dismiss an application by commercial sealing interests to suspend the European Union Regulation prohibiting seal product trade pending the outcome of a court case. The top two buyers of seal fur from the Canadian commercial seal slaughter were among the applicants in the case.
The Venetian and Palazzo Casinos in Las Vegas joined the Protect Seals seafood boycott. Together, the Venetian and The Palazzo comprise the largest five-diamond hotel and resort complex in the world. By September 2010, well over 100 restaurants in Europe had joined the boycott, including restaurants in the U.K., Ireland, France, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
The European Union ban on trade in products of commercial seal hunt entered into force, removing a primary market for Canada's commercial sealing industry, and changing history for the seals.
Chef and TV personality Mario Batali and his 16-unit restaurant group joined the Protect Seals campaign.
Johnny Food Master, a 16-unit grocery chain in Boston, joined the Protect Seals boycott.
Footage of the 2010 commercial seal hunt was provided to government representatives in North America and Europe. China Grill Management (with 24 restaurants in L.A., Miami, N.Y., Miami, London, Chicago, and Mexico City) joined the Protect Seals seafood boycott.
HSI and The HSUS documented the 2010 commercial seal slaughter, filming more than 250 apparent violations of the Marine Mammal Regulations. The Humane Society of the United States and Chefs for Seals hosted an Earth Day celebration of Canada's seal pups in Miami in an effort to end the commercial seal slaughter. More than 70 local chefs and restaurants pledged to boycott Canadian seafood until the slaughter is ended for good.