Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain took to Twitter on Monday and urged high-profile chefs to reconsider their stance on the Canadian seal hunt and a boycott on Canadian seafood.
The Humane Society of America has a long-running boycott on Canadian seafood to protest the seal hunt. Last week, it announced that 42 high-profile chefs have joined the boycott and were also being honoured by Food & Wine magazine.
[UPDATE: We've added comments from the International Fund For Animal Welfare's Canadian chapter. The group has campaigned against the Canadian seal hunt.]
Bourdain weighed in on the debate with this:
I’m all for protecting seals, but a total ban dooms the indigenous people above arctic circle to death or relocation. @dannybowien consider— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) October 28, 2013
Bourdain cites high food prices up north and the fact that Inuit have been hunting seals for generations as reasons why the ban would be ineffective.
To hold the entire Canadian seafood industry hostage over sustainable, absolutely necessary tribal practice is ill considered.— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) October 28, 2013
I completely understand well meaning intentions of good hearted chefs who signed this petition. But they are wrong .
Visit the Inuit— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) October 28, 2013
Bourdain has visited Northern Quebec and eaten seal with Inuit hunters on his show "No Reservations."
Montreal chef David McMillan, co-owner of restaurant Joe Beef, also joined Bourdain in condemning the boycott.
Canada's seal hunt largely occurs in Newfoundland but Inuit communities in the north also hunt seal. The Nunavut government wrote a report defending the seal hunt:
"Seal hunting has been a cornerstone of Inuit culture, nutrition and survival in the Arctic for millennia. Since the introduction of the cash economy in the Canadian Arctic, seal hunting has also been an important factor in the socio-economic well-being of Inuit. Seal hunting in Nunavut occurs year-round and is an important part of daily life in every coastal community."
The IFAW's Canadian chapter responded to Bourdain and pointed out that anti seal hunt campaigners have never opposed the native hunt.
@HuffPostCaLiv We'd like to point out that IFAW, and most animal groups, don't campaign against the Inuit seal hunt. Never have.— IFAW Canada (@IFAWCanada) October 28, 2013
@bourdain No one is preventing them from doing so. They have an exemption in the EU ban. You're confusing Inuit with NFLD hunts.— IFAW Canada (@IFAWCanada) October 28, 2013
The Canadian seal hunt has been a popular cause among animal rights activists in Canada and abroad. The European Union and Canada have fought a long legal battle over the trade in seal products.
South of the border, groups such as the Humane Society of the United States have also been vocal about the hunt. The groups say that the seal hunt is unnecessarily cruel and is unsustainable.
What do you think of the seal hunt and the seafood boycott?
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