On-island seal processing plant would create jobs, says Skid

  • Apr. 4, 2003 12:00 p.m.

Sealing on the west coast could create jobs and protect endangered salmon, says a Skidegate man.
The population of seals on the west coast is completely out of hand and impacts all sea life including oolichan, salmon and herring, Roy Jones Jr. told the Observer this week.
“The environmental community needs to be more responsible for the way they protect things. For me as a native person, salmon is the last stronghold of our diet. I strongly believe it’s in jeopardy,” he said.
Hunters could harvest 50,000 seals a year from the whole coast for 10 years with no problem, Mr. Jones said.
The industry should be monitored for sustainability, he added: “Where we draw the line for the amount taken is very important.”
The harvest should be seen as an industry, not a cull, Mr. Jones said. His research suggests seal pelts, oil, meat and organs all have a market in Asia. A seal processing plant on the islands could create lots of jobs, he said.
Seals were harvested on the BC Coast until 1965. The government paid a bounty for every seal nose hunters collected, but at that time, the seals were hunted only for the bounty, Mr. Jones said. Canada has seal hunts on the Eastern and Artic coasts and he thinks people on the west coast should have an equal opportunity to benefit from the industry.
MP Andy Burton asked for federal government approval of a seal hunt in the House of Commons on March 21, and Mr. Jones hopes to have an answer soon. DFO and Health Canada are involved in this decision. DFO would have to approve the hunt and set quotas. Health Canada must create regulations for seal meat processing.