Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dear America, our seals are not endangered

March 25, 2015

Bruce A. Heyman
Embassy of the United States to Canada
100 Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1AOA6

Mr. Heyman,

I am writing with deep concern over misinformation being spread by United States Customs and Border Protection agents that seal populations found off of Canada’s East Coast are an endangered species.

A Newfoundland and Labrador woman’s seal-skin purse was confiscated recently at the U.S. border checkpoint in Bridgewater, Maine after agents informed her that seals are an “endangered species.”

The seal-skin purse in question was purchased in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and was likely made from the pelt of a harp seal.

According to Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Northwest Atlantic harp seal herd is estimated at 7.3 million animals and is not “endangered.”

The grey seal herd found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has been estimated to number 350,000 animals, its highest level in 30 years.

Neither of these herds is endangered. In fact, both herds are so healthy that there have been calls in recent years for a cull because of the animals’ negative impact on delicate fish stocks.

Personal seal products made from the pelts of harp or grey seals – which are not endangered  – should not be confiscated, nor should law-abiding Canadian citizens face financial or other penalties at the U.S. border.

U.S. border agents are not experts in fisheries or harvesting matters and should refrain from sharing misinformation.

As the Member of Parliament for the Newfoundland and Labrador riding of St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, I ask that this issue receive immediate attention.

Yours truly

Ryan Cleary,

MP, St. John’s South-Mount Pearl



Unknown said...

Well written.
I doubt that the sense of hyper-entitlement which this uninformed border guard uses to bully travelers, is shared by any of their co-workers.

Anonymous said...

Endangered or not importing seal products into the USA violates the MMMPA, she should have checked the laws before she made the trip that is her responsibility. I don't know if the border guard said that seals are endangered or not none of us do we only have her word for it so shouldn't someone ask before assuming it's true?

Unknown said...

The problem is that the purse was confiscated under US law which unfortunately is as antiquated as is the labeling of the seals as endangered! We here in the US, often times have the unfortunate necessity of disproving a negative, when dealing with NOAA/NMFS/ENGOs! They make quite a tag-team...