Chronicle-Herald, Feb. 25, 2004 (reprinted online at:
By Brian Medel
/ Yarmouth Bureau
Yarmouth, NS - A commercial harvest of grey
seals is expected to be proposed for waters off Nova Scotia.
which weigh 350 to 450 kilograms, are hurting cod stock recovery by devouring
fish, say fishermen.
(GSCS: Zero evidence
supports this conclusion, and the truth may be the complete opposite. The ecological
role of seals includes stimulating the production of food for fish. And cod are
Now the Grey Seal Society is preparing a remedy.
"These are not cuddly. . . . These are the tigers and lions
of the oceans," said Denny Morrow, executive director of the Nova Scotia
Fish Packers Association and chairman of the Grey Seal Society, composed of fishing
(GSCS: Tigers and lions,
we have belatedly realized, are crucially important for the healthy functioning
of their natural ecosystems.)
The Grey Seal Society is
proposing a commercial harvest by fishermen....There's never been a seal harvest
of any size in Nova Scotia, he said....
History shows that "a seal harvest in Nova
Scotia" reduced grey seals to the edge of extinction a half century ago.
Is your "Grey Seal Society" really unaware of this?)
The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans is sidestepping the issue
of seals eating fish, Grey Seal Society members say. "DFO has never seemed
to focus on it at all," Mr. Morrow said.
Dear Mr. Morrow: this is only the tip of the iceberg of issues currently being
sidestepped by DFO. They are also sidestepping the question of what
cod are eating, and the question of what has caused recent declines in plankton
production, etc...as well as a direct
challenge to their faulty assessment of small pelagic fish biomass on the
The biggest part of the Scotian Shelf,
from the tip of Cape Breton to Halifax, has been under a cod-fishing moratorium
for 10 years. "The cod stock in that area has gone down from 20,000 to 25,000
metric tonnes to about 6,000 metric tonnes," Mr. Morrow said. But the DFO
continues to ignore the issue "because they just don't want to deal with
(GSCS: This looks irresistably
to you, perhaps, as if "seal predation" has lowered the Eastern Scotian
shelf cod stock. DFO's analysis shows that the big losers in the cod stock today
are the larger, adult fish - those individuals too big for seals to normally eat.
Big cod just seem to vanish now. It is the unexpected disappearance of this older
age group, after cod have outgrown the risk of seal predation, that is driving
this fish stock down. DFO knows this, and has detailed the trend with statistics
in their recent publications. "Excessive" seal predation, if it occurred,
should be driving up the natural mortality rate of small cod...but this is not
what's happening, it is natural mortality of large cod that is skyrocketing. And
this coincides with large cod on the Eastern Scotian Shelf being in the lowest
physical condition ever recorded. It is probably safe to say that "NEVER"
have cod in Nova Scotia been so poorly nourished. Are the big cod simply starving
to death today? DFO has over four decades of diet data on this particular cod
stock that has still not been published. Try asking for that...)
Scientists say seals may affect the recovery of groundfish stocks, "but we
don't have the information to understand what really has been going on the eastern
Scotian shelf," said Wayne Stobo, DFO senior science manager.
Wrong! DFO does have the information to understand what really has been going
on the eastern Scotian shelf. Older fish are increasingly losing condition in
every known stock, zooplankton abundance has dropped significantly, even nitrate
formation has mysteriously fallen. DFO appears now to be choosing to remain "perplexed"
about what is driving these changes. Ocean fertility is falling, and this is a
very grave negative development...but one that was not "supposed" to
happen. Regarding "scientists say seals may affect the recovery of groundfish
stocks," that is correct. But, DFO lacks the gumption to tell the fishing
industry what it does not want to hear: that seals may POSITIVELY affect the recovery
of the groundfish stocks.)
A senior DFO fishery adviser,
Gary Weber, commenting on the society's proposal, said it's "a little premature
for us to discuss the proposal because we haven't seen it formally."
"We would like to see how they would carry it out." ....
Uh, huh..."show us what you want to do and we'll rubber-stamp it"? This
is from the marine "conservation and protection" specialists, DFO, that
Canadian taxpayers fund to the tune of $1.5 billion annually...)