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April 22, 2010

Chefs for Seals, Nigel Barker Team up on Earth Day to ProtectSeals

  • Nigel

    Nigel Barker poses in front of the sponsor wall at the Miami Chefs for Seals event. Apt3 Photography

  • Chef

    A chef signs his name to the handprint canvas. Apt3 Photography

  • Miami

    The interior of the Moore building during the event. Apt3 Photography

  • Chefs

    A group shot of Miami chefs standing up for the seals, Nigel Barker, and HSUS staff. Apt3 Photography

MIAMI — The Humane Society of the United States and Chefs for Seals hosted an Earth Day celebration of Canada's seal pups in an effort to end the commercial seal slaughter. More than 70 local chefs and restaurants have pledged to boycott Canadian seafood until the slaughter is ended for good.

The party took place in the Moore Building and highlighted Nigel Barker's photographs of the harp seal nursery. Barker traveled with The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International in 2008 to capture the beauty of the nursery and to document the killing.

Hors d'oeuvres for the event were prepared by Jonathan Eismann Restaurant Group (Pacific Time, Fin, Q and PizzaVolante) and the Graspa Group (Mai Tardi, The News Lounge, Van Dyke, TiramesU, Spris and Segafredo on Lincoln Road).

"Baby seals are not a product that humans need to sustain ourselves. The commercial slaughter of seals is an inhumane killing process for a ludicrous luxury product that can easily be replaced," Eismann said.

By encouraging restaurants, chefs and consumers to boycott Canadian seafood, The Humane Society of the United States intends to convince Canada's fishing industry to stop participating in and supporting the commercial seal hunt each spring off the East Coast.

"We are humbled to be part of such a worldwide effort and join hands with our peers in the industry to make a difference on Planet Earth," said Graziano Sbroggio, of Mai Tardi and Graspa Group.

Throughout the United States and Europe, support for the boycott is growing with more than 5,500 restaurants and grocery stores participating. The first Chefs for Seals event was organized by Meshelle and Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Va. and hosted by chefs in Washington, D.C. in July 2009. The Earth Day event in Miami is the second Chefs for Seals event. Plans are in place for similar events to be hosted by chefs in cities across the country.  

"These chefs are sending a strong, clear message that this slaughter must stop, and it must stop now," said John Grandy, Ph.D., senior vice president of wildlife for The HSUS. "The HSUS cannot thank all these wonderful chefs and sponsors enough for their support in hosting this wonderful celebration, and for their efforts to stop the commercial slaughter of baby seals for their fur."

A recent poll conducted by Ipsos Reid reveals that half of Newfoundland sealers holding an opinion support a federal buyout of the commercial sealing industry, which would involve fishermen and vessel owners being compensated for their sealing licenses, and money being invested in economic alternatives for affected communities.

"The juxtaposition of the harp seals giving birth and toddling around during the first two weeks of their lives in this beautiful, icy landscape with that of the sealers crashing through the ice leaving a sea of blood and guts in their wake was a sobering moment to say the least. Rarely in my life had I felt so dehumanized by another's actions," Barker said. "The good news is that there is real hope."

A complete list of the chefs and restaurants participating in the boycott can be found at humanesociety.org/protectseals and click here for a list of sponsors from the Miami event.  

Facts

•  Ninety-seven percent of the seals killed are defenseless pups younger than 3 months old. The seals are killed primarily for their fur, which is exported for use in fashion markets.

•  Canada's commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth, with nearly 1 million seals killed in the past five years alone.

•  Veterinary experts say Canada's commercial seal hunt is inherently inhumane because of the environment in which it operates and the speed  at which the killing occurs.

•  Sealers are commercial fishermen who earn, on average, less than 5 percent of their annual incomes from killing the seals. The remainder comes from seafood including crab, shrimp and lobster.

•  Canadian government representatives have said the only way the commercial seal hunt can be ended is if the fishing industry demands it.

•  To give the Canadian fishing industry an incentive to act, HSUS launched the ProtectSeals boycott of Canadian seafood.

•  To date, more than 5,500 restaurants and grocery stores across the nation have joined the ProtectSeals campaign. By shifting their seafood purchasing away from Canada, they are letting Canada's fishing industry know that they – along with millions of Americans – think that the commercial seal slaughter is inconsistent with responsible, humane marine stewardship.  

•  Giancarla Bodoni, Michelle Bernstein, Cat Cora, Jonathan Critchley, Mario Curko, Jonathan Eismann, Cindy Hutson, Todd Mark Miller, Nancy Oakes, Nora Pouillon, Michel Richard, Douglas Rodriguez, Michael Romano, Michael Schwartz, Kerry Simon and Allen Susser are among the hundreds of compassionate chefs working with The Humane Society of the United States in the crusade to end Canada's barbaric seal slaughter.

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching "HumaneTV" in the App Store.

The Humane Society of the United States is the largest and most prominent animal protection organization in the world. With more than 11 million supporters in the United States, we represent 1 in every 28 Americans.  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.

Chefs for Seals is an informal group of chefs whose passion for the seal issue has propelled them to host events designed to raise public awareness about the plight of seals targeted in Canada's annual commercial seal slaughter.  

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