Our Statement & FAQ: Why we are serving seal for Dine Out 2017

Why is Edible Canada serving Newfoundland Seal during the 2017 Dine Out Festival?

Seal is an indigenous Canadian protein which is good for you, sustainable, ethically sourced, and is regulated by the Department of Fisheries & Oceans. Seal meat and the seal harvest have a cultural and historical significance for many northern communities, and are therefore both a part Canada’s culinary heritage. Edible Canada’s mission is to explore the cultures and regions of Canada through seasonal, sustainable ingredients in the hands of the many cultures which make up our country.

The product which we are bringing in meets Canadian standards for humane hunting and is harvested in yields which support long term ecosystem biodiversity and seal population stability. According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, recent population surveys and estimates by Canada’s fisheries and marine science indicate that Atlantic seal populations are abundant and healthy, and not considered endangered under Canadian (e.g., Species at Risk Act) or International (e.g., Convention on the International Trade a/Endangered Species) legislation or policy. Additionally, effective annual population management has been applied as a method of increasing the annual replenishment of North Atlantic Cod stock. 

The humane and ethical sourcing of all the ingredients served at Edible Canada is very important to us, and we are always searching for the best of what is local, sustainable, seasonal, and uniquely Canadian. In the case of produce, that means we utilize small local farmers and seasonal produce wherever possible. For traditional red meat and poultry, we work with respected butchers to source ethically raised, hormone and antibiotic free cuts using the whole animal. For seafood, we look to suppliers with integrity and marine certification bodies like our partners at Ocean Wise to ensure that what we put on our tables is a sustainable harvest. In the case of the seal, we are sourcing the product carefully, from suppliers which meet the DFO standards, and adhere to Canadian laws which require seals to be harvested in a humane manner, and prohibit the harvesting of White Coat Harp seals or Hooded Blueback seals. 

On this issue, we would like to acknowledge the complex issues of sustainability, humane treatment of wildlife, and biodiversity conservation, while at the same time respecting the needs of human populations and cultural traditions dependent on the harvesting of abundant biological resources. By putting seal on our menu for Dine Out 2017, we are inviting you to learn more about, and experience, a different facet of Canada’s diverse cuisine.

FAQ

IS SEAL OCEAN WISE? IS IT SUSTAINABLE?

No. It is not Ocean Wise. However, this is because it has not been assessed, does not indicate how sustainable it is. No marine stewardship certification body has given seal meat either a green light or a red flag. The Newfoundland seal harvest is a sustainable, well-managed fishery. The WWF Canada monitors the population health, which is growing despite the annual harvest.

IS THE NEWFOUNDLAND SEAL HARVEST INHUMANE?

In the past, the principal concerns of the humane societies have been the age of the seals harvested and whether the deaths are painless. Significant academic research exists to indicate that the seal deaths are in fact instantaneous and humane, and this is the most scrutinized hunt in North America. Additionally, it is illegal to harvest harp seal pups and hooded seal pups, and has been since 1987. The seals that are harvested are self-reliant, independent animals.

Veterinarians have found that the hakapik, a multipurpose hunting tool, when properly used, is at least as humane as, and often more humane than, methods used in commercial slaughterhouses.

WHY DID WE PUT SEAL MEAT ON THE MENU? WHY NOW?

Edible Canada President, Eric Pateman, has a passion for Canada’s north garnered over years of travelling to the Yukon. Seal is a uniquely Canadian product, which is harvested sustainably on a seasonal basis. With this menu, we aim to represent all regions of Canada, and support the small northern coastal communities. 2017 is the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada, and the seal hunt is a part of our culinary heritage.

HOW LONG WILL IT BE ON THE MENU?

This will only be on our menu over the course of the 2017 Dine Out Festival, from January 20th – February 5th, 2017.

HOW ARE CANADIAN SEAL STOCKS MANAGED, AND WHAT LEGISLATION GOVERNS THEM?

The Government of Canada regulates the seal harvest through its Department of Fisheries and Oceans. On the ground, Fishery Officers at DFO closely monitor the harvest to ensure sealers comply with Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations. They monitor catches, ensure humane harvesting practices, and enforce regulations and licence conditions.

HOW DOES EDIBLE CANADA SUPPORT THE DRIVE TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD?

We are excited about the opportunity to raise awareness about the product by featuring it on our menu. Additionally, $2 from each seal dish purchased will go directly to a charity supporting academic research on ocean ecosystem health.

WHAT DO EXPERTS HAVE TO SAY?

Tom Hughes, Executive Vice-President of the Ontario Federation of Humane Societies

We believe that the Atlantic harp seal herd is now not only stable, but probably growing. The simple fact is that there is no possible chance that the animal is in any danger of extinction. The Gulf of St. Lawrence seal hunt as it is now conducted and as far as the young seals are concerned, is without a doubt one of the most humane slaughtering operations I have ever witnessed. The greatest immorality in the seal hunting controversy has been the reckless, deliberate campaign of racial discrimination and hatred which has been deliberately fostered against the people of Newfoundland and of Canada by groups and individuals whose primary aim is to raise funds, particularly in the United States and Europe.

WHERE CAN I ASK QUESTIONS AND EXPRESS MY CONCERNS FURTHER?

Please direct your inquires and media requests to info@ediblecanada.com. We are experiencing a high volume of messages, but we will respond to all requests as we are able!