It’s a tradition for tourists and locals alike.
But feeding the seals at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf may soon become a thing of the past, as Federal officials are considering making the practice illegal.
“I think there is a concern with the seals and their natural habitat and the impact the feeding of the seals may be having,” says Ian Robertson of The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.
Feeding the seals falls under a grey area of federal regulations. But the Department of Fisheries and Oceans wants to make it a black and white issue, and ban the practice. For the safety of the seals and those who feed them.
“These are at the end of the day, wild creatures. We have no idea how they are going to interact. If one child’s hand gets too close, we don’t know how they are going to react, ” says Robertson, who points out that the Harbour Authority won’t be involved in the enforcement of the new rules.
While considered a tourist draw, Tourism Victoria says its are not overly concerned with the practice of feeding seals.
They feel it’s the wharf it self that’s the big draw. But some proprietors here say it could have an effect on their bottom line.
“Even if people aren’t buying the fish, it’s a lot of traffic,” says Oliver Giles, manager of The Fish Store, which sells the bait which feeds the seals. “If people know they cant feed the seals, that may put people off of coming down.”
There’s no word on when the new rules may come into effect, but it’s not likely to happen before the summer season comes to a close.