Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Seals eat fish as a main source of food, so do you think the hunting of seals would affect the number of fish found in the ocean by a great amount?

Paul Watson: Only 3% of a harp's seals diet is made up from Cod. There is a very complex food chain in the ocean and this diversity and interdependence has worked very well throughout time. The cod was not destroyed by the harp seals. The species was depleted by human fisheries. At the time of Jacques Cartier, there was no shortage of fish and there were ten times as many seals. The fact is that the largest predator of cod aside from people are other species of fish, the very fish that harp seals prey upon. When you lower harp seal populations you increase predatory fish populations thereby contributing to a further decline in the cod. Rather than more seals less cod, it is more seals = more cod and less seals = less cod.

Rebecca Aldworth: In fact, many scientists believe culling seals may further impede recovery of fish stocks by removing even more biomass from the ocean. Visit to find out more about this theory. We do know that harp seals (the target of the commercial seal hunt) are opportunistic feeders (see That means they eat a little bit of a lot of different species. Commercially fished cod accounts for about 3 percent of their diets, but they also consume many significant predators of cod. To learn more about this, you can read a presentation that was given to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans by Dr. David Lavigne on the topic. You should also have a quick look at this simplified depiction of the food web of the northwest Atlantic - as you can see, determining what the impact of a seal cull on any one fish population would be next to impossible. And even the Department of Fisheries and Oceans agrees: "Seals eat cod, but seals also eat other fish that prey on cod. There are several factors contributing to the lack of recovery of Atlantic cod stocks such as fishing effort, the poor physical condition of the fish, poor growth, unfavourable ocean conditions and low stock productivity at current levels…It is widely accepted in the scientific community that there are many uncertainties in the estimates of the amount of fish consumed by seals. Seals and cod exist in a complex ecosystem, which mitigates against easy analysis or simple solutions to problems such as the lack of recovery of cod stocks."


I challenge any reader to dispute this information and convince me that the seal hunt off the Canadian East Coast has the capacity to recover cod stocks (that dropped because of human mismanagement.)


Anonymous bowlerbob said...

I'm starting to think enviro fascism is the way forward. Enjoy my roommates new tunes..

8:59 AM  

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