January 19, 2009
Cat Cora, Iron Chef and Bon Appétit Executive Chef, Pledges to ProtectSeals
The Humane Society of the United States is pleased to announce that Bon Appétit Executive Chef Cat Cora has joined the ProtectSeals boycott of Canadian seafood. During a star-studded, invitation-only dinner by Cora at the Bon Appétit Supper Club in Park City on Sunday, John Grandy, senior vice president of wildlife for The HSUS, presented Cora with a plaque and thanked her for her support and dedication to ending Canada's commercial slaughter of baby harp seals.
"I'm thrilled to lend my support and name to this important campaign of The Humane Society of the United States," said Cat Cora, Bon Appétit executive chef. "I pledge to boycott all Canadian seafood, and I hope my participation will help raise awareness not only within the culinary community, but also increase knowledge with the general public about this cruel practice and the senseless suffering and death of seals."
Chefs, restaurants, seafood distributors and grocers participating in the ProtectSeals campaign pledge to avoid Canadian snow crab, or all seafood from Eastern Canada, or seafood from all of Canada until the hunt ends for good. Cora has pledged not to purchase any Canadian seafood. The HSUS has signed pledges from all boycott participants.
"We are delighted to have Cat Cora lend her name and reputation to the ProtectSeals campaign," said Grandy. "As one of the most respected and well known chefs, Cora is able to shine a light on the cruelty of this completely unnecessary and inhumane slaughter. Keeping the issue in the public eye helps generate awareness about the cruel seal hunt and puts further pressure on the Canadian government to end the senseless slaughter of baby seals once and for all."
The evening also featured "A Sealed Fate?," a documentary film and photographs that provide an intimate look at the short-lived lives of seals, captured by Nigel Barker, renowned photographer and judge on "America's Next Top Model." Among those attending were Adrienne Bailon, Alan Cumming, Billy Gibbons, Paris Hilton, Anthony Kiedis, Jay Lyon and his band Tamarama, Zoe Kravitz, Josh Madden, Chris Mann, Danny Masterson, Slash and Emily VanCamp. Barker's presentation was the result of accompanying The Humane Society of the United States to the ice floes in 2008.
Some of the many companies participating in The HSUS boycott campaign include Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe's, Oceanaire, Harris Teeter, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Cafes, Legal Sea Foods, BI-LO Supermarkets, WinCo Foods, Ted Turner's steakhouse chain - Ted's Montana Grill and Bon Appétit Management Company. A full list can be found here.
Cat Cora's culinary aspirations began at an early age, and by 15, she had developed a business plan for her own restaurant. In 2005, she made television history on Food Network's Iron Chef America as the first and only female Iron Chef, and in November 2006 Bon Appétit Magazine bestowed her with their Teacher of the Year Award, which she calls, "the greatest recognition she could achieve as a chef." That month, she was also honored with another great culinary distinction when she was named Executive Chef of the magazine.
Cora made her TV debut in 1999, as co-host of Food Network's Melting Pot with Rocco Di Spirito. She went on to host My Country My Kitchen: Greece, Date Plate and was one of the featured hosts on Fine Living's Simplify Your Life. A documentary, Cat's In The Kitchen was also made about her first James Beard dinner in April 2002. Read her full bio here.
Facts about Canada's Commercial Seal Hunt:
- Canada's commercial seal hunt is the world's largest slaughter of marine mammals, with more than 1 million seals killed in the past four years.
- Each year, suffering is documented at the commercial seal hunt, including seals cut open while responding to pain, conscious seals impaled on steel spikes and dragged across the ice floes, and wounded seals left to suffer.
- Veterinary experts say the commercial seal hunt is inherently inhumane because of the physical environment in which the seal hunt operates and the speed at which it must be conducted.
- Ninety seven percent of the seals killed in the commercial seal hunt are less than 3 months old at the time of slaughter. Many have yet to take their first swim or eat their first solid meal when they are killed.
- Independent scientists warn Canada's seal hunt management plan poses a threat to the survival of seal populations, particularly in light of the impacts of global warming on these ice dependent animals. Decreasing ice cover in the northwest Atlantic in recent years has led to mortality rates as high as 100 percent in key seal birthing areas, when the sea ice melted before the pups were old enough to survive in open water.
- Sealers are commercial fishermen, who earn on average less than 5 percent of their incomes from killing seals — the remainder from fisheries including crab, shrimp and lobster.
- In 2008, the landed value of the seal hunt in Canada was less than $7 million.
- Canada exports nearly two-thirds of its seafood to the United States producing $2.5 billion annually for the Canadian economy. In 2005, The Humane Society of the United States launched a boycott of Canadian seafood products as a means of pressuring the Canadian fishing industry and government to stop the seal hunt.
- Since the ProtectSeals seafood boycott was launched, more than 600,000 individuals and more than 5,000 grocery stores and restaurants have pledged to avoid some or all Canadian seafood until the commercial seal hunt is ended for good.
- In recent years, ten countries have either banned their trade in seal products or announced their intentions to do so. The European Union is currently considering a prohibition on seal product trade.
- Nigel Barker, noted photographer and judge from "America's Next Top Model," is a spokesperson for the campaign. Barker accompanied HSUS staff to the ice floes this past spring to photograph the seal nursery and document the hunt.
For more information about the campaign to save Canadian seals, please visit humanesociety.org/protectseals.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.