Ocean Conservation Club Combats Seal Hunt

By Sammy Herdman

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The Ocean Conservation Club is currently focussing on ending the Canadian seal hunt. Junior Taylor Bratton, club president and organizer, hosts meetings in April Tucker’s marine science classroom to spread awareness about issues involving the ocean, share ideas and inspire club members to help protect ocean ecosystems, starting with protesting the Canadian seal hunt.

COMBATING CRUELTY: Junior Alex Gibbons, freshmen Elise Ryan, Kate Ryan, Nicole Campbell, and Adrienne Tosaris sell baked goods to raise money to help stop the Canadian Seal Hunt.
Photo courtesy of: Taylor Bratton

The hunt is the largest massacre of marine mammals in the world. “The Canadian seal hunt is a barbaric practice that has been going on for much too long,” Bratton said. The number of seals allowed to be killed in the hunt, which occurs every April to March, has been as high as 975,000. This year the quota was 325,000 seals. Traditionally, baby seals are more commonly targeted, and are usually bludgeoned to death with hakapiks, sticks with hooked blades. The Canadian government benefits from this hunt through an increase of the fishing economy and the exportation of the seal pelts to countries such as Norway. “Anything that involves clubbing baby seals to death and taking only their skin is a disgusting thing to do,” Bratton said.

To protest the Canadian seal hunt, Bratton created a series of petitions she plans on sending to the Prime Minister of Newfoundland, who has full jurisdiction over the hunt. As of press time, the online petition has almost 600 signatures, only 400 away from the goal.

“I started the club because I wanted to make a difference for the ocean,” Bratton said. “There’s so much more a person can do with a team of people.” Bratton believes that any amount of help is crucial to this cause. “The more negative feedback the Canadian government receives about the hunt, the less likely they are to resume,” she said. Participating in the Ocean Conservation Club has caused many members to develop strong feelings about the future of the hunt. “Nothing can happen unless people know what’s going on. Once enough people are fired up there can be some hard core banning of the seal hunt,” freshman club treasurer Fiona Bransgrove said.

The club members hope that a feeling of responsibility for bettering the world’s oceans will extend to more of the student body. The members are spreading awareness through tutorial announcements, rallies, bake sales and social networks. The online petition can be found on Bratton’s Facebook page.