Canadian actress Pam Anderson is in Newfoundland today to offer Canadian seal hunters $1 million to abandon the controversial industry.
Anderson, along with philanthropist and Simpsons creator Sam Simon appeared at the St. John's office of the Canadian Sealers Association in an attempt to offer the cash buyout in person.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) confirmed the offering to Yahoo Canada News, saying the money is intended to help seal farmers transition out of the industry.
According to the letter to be delivered to the Canadian Sealers Association, acceptance of the money requires the association secure bipartisan support by the end of the year to end the seal hunt.
Aboriginal hunters would be free to continue hunting up to six seals per person.
"Canadian politicians remain too timid to initiate a buyout for fear of upsetting swing voters in eastern Canada and because they don't seem to care about individual sealers," Simon said in the statement, according to CBC News.
"That's why I'm appealing to you as a trade leader to break the ice and prompt a buyout like those that helped asbestos miners, tobacco farmers, and workers in other collapsed industries."
Canadian Press reports that Anderson received a "cold reception," with Members of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union confronting the pair outside the closed office.The
Canada is currently appealing a World Trade Organization ban on seal products, which drastically limits the industry's market. The CSA says sealers "depend upon the ocean for their livelihood" and that the industry "plays a very important role in keeping a large seal population from getting out of control."
But bad publicity has mired the industry in a losing public relations battle. Celebrities such as Anderson and Sir Paul McCartney accuse seal hunters of inhumane treatment of animals as stark images shared by groups such as PETA reach a larger audience.
In March, the International Fund for Animal Welfare announced the end of the two-decade practice of physically observing the annual seal hunts, claiming the attention it provided for the struggling industry was doing more harm than good.
“A lot of times just by being out there and being on the ice we sort of keep this thing alive,” campaign head Sheryl Fink said at the time. “I think if we take a step back, our hope at least is that this thing will continue towards its inevitable demise.”
The presumption being that, should the industry collapse in on itself, the only thing keeping hunters invested was the prohibitive cost of transitioning to a new way of life. Hence, Pamela Anderson and her $1 million promise.
Considering the CSA represents some 6,000 sealers, the $1 million would end up spread pretty thin. The roughly $165 each sealer would receive would not do much to help with the transition.
The move appears to be intended to address the financial barriers that stand between PETA and its goal of ending the seal hunt. But the limited impact the financial offering would have makes it somewhat hollow and leaves the seal hunt debate with a humanitarian focus. Which doesn’t advance the debate one direction or the other.
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