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Pa.'s Top Sustainable Seafood Supplier Joins ProtectSeals Campaign

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States is pleased to welcome Cheyney Seafood to its roster of more than 5,000 seafood purveyors, grocery stores and restaurants that are participating in the ProtectSeals campaign to help end Canada's commercial seal hunt. 

Cheyney Seafood, headquartered in Lebanon, Pa., has a deep commitment to sustainable seafood and responsible marine stewardship. Cheyney distributes seafood to hundreds of restaurants and hotels throughout Pennsylvania including the Harrisburg Hilton Hotel, Hershey Lodge and Convention Centerand the Hershey Hotel. Cheyney also has a retail location where members of the public can enjoy the same high-quality, sustainably harvested seafood that the company sells to restaurants.

Cheyney Seafood has pledged not to sell any seafood from Newfoundland, home to 90 percent of Canada's sealers, or any fresh seafood from all of Canada until Canada permanently ends its commercial seal hunt.

"We're taking a two-pronged approach to our participation," said Diane Church, co-owner of Cheyney Seafood. "We want to send an unequivocally strong message to Newfoundland as the province most deeply engaged in the commercial seal hunt, but we also think it is important to send a message to all of Canada's seafood industry. Canada's seafood industry must stop supporting the seal hunt. We ask fishermen who don't participate in the seal hunt to use their influence to convince those who do to stop.  A government buyout of sealing licenses is a win-win for all parties involved."

Cheyney Seafood is not alone in its dedication to sustainable seafood and to ending the commercial seal hunt. Many of the seafood companies participating in the ProtectSeals campaign are on the vanguard of the sustainable seafood movement, including The Plitt Company, Ecofish and Prime Seafood. Like Cheyney Seafood, each of these companies has shifted some, or all, of its seafood purchasing away from Canada until the seal hunt ends for good. They recognize that the carnage, cruelty and waste associated with Canada's commercial seal hunt are inconsistent with responsible marine stewardship.   

"I'm thrilled to welcome Cheyney Seafood to the ProtectSeals campaign. I applaud Cheyney Seafood's commitment to a business model that is devoted to marine stewardship," said Patricia Ragan, director of The HSUS' ProtectSeals campaign. "As the front end of the U.S. seafood supply chain, their decision to stop selling Canadian seafood will create ripples through the United States."

Since the launch of the ProtectSeals campaign, the value of Canadian seafood exports to the United States has dropped dramatically, providing clear financial incentive for Canadian fishermen to stop killing seals.

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: Seals are cut open while responding to pain, conscious seals are impaled on steel spikes and dragged across the ice floes and wounded seals are 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 when they are slaughtered. 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 effects 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, where 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 of their income comes from fishing crab, shrimp and lobster.
  • Canada exports nearly two-thirds of its seafood to the United States, which produces $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.
  • In recent years, 10 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 on "America's Next Top Model," is a spokesperson for the campaign. Barker accompanied HSUS staff to the ice floes in spring 2008 to photograph the seal nursery and document the hunt. Barker returned to the harp seal nursery earlier this month.  

For more information about the campaign to save Canadian seals, please visit humanesociety.org/protectseals.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. 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