Vancouver Island whale watchers fight West Coast seal cull

Vancouver Island whale watchers fight West Coast seal cull
WatchVancouver Island whale watchers are urging officials not to grant a license for a proposed seal cull on our coast.

Gary Sutton loves seeing playful seals and sea lions while whale watching and is completely against the West Coast seal cull that fishermen are pushing for.

“This isn’t about restoring balance to kill a bunch of seals and send their pelts over to China,” said Ocean Ecoventures Garry Sutton.

“This is not restoring balance here. That’s just money. That’s all they’re interested in,” said the Cowichan Bay whale watcher.

READ MORE: Nanaimo fur company wants to make coats from West Coast seal cull 

Whale watchers are worried about the impact a cull would have on the growing Biggs Killer (transient) whale population.

The majority of those whales’ diet is seals and sea lions, and another new calf was just spotted Sunday.

“And two-thirds of their diet are pinnipeds,” said Sutton.

“So now we’re going to take away their food source, to maybe leave them in the same situation as the southern residents [orcas.]”

“It just seems like a horrible idea,” said Sutton.

The whale watchers are two of thousands speaking out against the fishermen’s proposed seal cull and seal fur industry.

“We think we’re on the cusp of the seal fur market in China,” Fur Canada’s Calvin Kania told CHEK News Friday.

“Seal is just now starting to take off in China.”

“So I don’t care if you’re an environmentalist,” said seal cull advocate Tom Sewid.

“Step aside we are going to harvest seals whether you like it or not,” said the Campbell River man.

Advocates for the cull insist harvesting thousands of seals and sea lions will allow devastated salmon stocks a chance to return.

Yet according to Sutton, salmon is just a small portion of what seals and sea lions eat.

“This is not about restoring balance in the ecosystem,” said Sutton.

“Because the ecosystem takes care of itself.”

“I think people are desperate,” said Ocean Ecoventures’ Tasli Shaw.

“There’s a salmon crisis on the coast and we’re all looking for a silver bullet.”

Fisheries and Oceans was unavailable to comment on the controversial cull, as the debate rages loudly in public until an unofficial statement is made.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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