Underwatertimes.com News Service - December 20, 2005 00:00 EST

Since the killing of the first seal in the 2005 hunt last March, The Humane Society of the United States has advocated for a boycott of Canadian seafood to stop that country's annual slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seals for their fur.

To date, more than 300 restaurants and companies have joined The HSUS boycott, from the culinary world-famous—Chefs Rocco Dispirito, David Pasternack and Rick Moonen—to trendy locales across the country—B.E.D, Postrio, Tavern on the Green—and at least 120,000 individuals have signed the pledge to reduce or end their Canadian seafood purchases.

"The boycott is clearly having an impact in Canada," said Dr. John W. Grandy, HSUS senior vice president. "The Humane Society of the United States has noted that Canadian snow crab exports to the United States have dropped by over $150 million—nearly 10 times the value of the seal hunt and a 36 percent drop since the seafood boycott began. The Canadian government and the fishing industry need to decide whether maintaining a seal hunt is worth the cost to the country."

More than two-thirds of Canadian seafood is exported to the United States, producing $2.8 billion annually for the Canadian economy and making the industry a viable target for a boycott.

Other companies that have signed on include Legal Sea Foods, Down East Seafood, Whole Foods Markets, Wild Oats Market, The Plitt Company, The Miami Crab Company, Palomino Foods and Monterey Fish Market. In addition, Sandra Lee, New York Times bestselling life stylist, host of Semi-Homemade on Food TV, and author of several books of the same name has announced her support for the boycott.

"It is incomprehensible to me that the Canadian government continues to allow this senseless slaughter to continue," said Tom Worthington of the Monterey Fish Company. "We must all work together to send a message that Canada must end this hunt in order to save the reputation of the seafood industry there." Bill Holler of Legal Seafood agrees. "We cannot in good conscience purchase seafood from those areas that support the hunt. We owe it to our customers to take a stand," he said.

Designer Stella McCartney has also thrown her support behind the campaign, with information and links on her website (www.stellamccartney.com) and by donating a portion of the proceeds of a special t-shirt to the Protect Seals campaign from the highly successful H&M partnership.

American seafood distributors are asking their Canadian counterparts to use their power to stop Canada's commercial seal hunt. "I urge the Canadian government and fishing industry to act now to stop this slaughter before it is too late, before the good name of Canada is further tarnished," said Ed Taylor of Down East Seafood, a major distributor in New York City.

This year's hunt, with more than 300,000 baby seals slaughtered, is the largest killing of marine mammals in the world. During the hunt, the pups are clubbed or shot to death primarily for their skins, many while still alive and conscious. The U.S. has long banned imports of seal products, but the market for sealskins in Europe provides an incentive for the sealers to take to the ice every spring to kill as many seals as they can.

Sealing is an off-season activity conducted by commercial fishermen from Canada's East Coast. Even in Newfoundland, where more than 90 percent of the sealers live, sealing income accounts for less than one percent of that province's gross domestic product and only two percent of the landed value of Newfoundland's fishery.

A complete list of companies supporting the ProtectSeals boycott of Canadian seafood is available at www.RestaurantsForSeals.org. For more information on The HSUS seal campaign, please visit www.ProtectSeals.org.