The Humane Society of the United States says its boycott of Canadian seafood products over the seal hunt is working, but an American lobby group says the boycott is phoney.
At least one prominent chef was not aware his name was being used to promote an end to the Canadian seal hunt.
The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Consumer Freedom, a food industry lobby group says the campaign's claim that nearly 300 companies have signed on is bogus.
The HSUS, one of the most vocal critics of the annual seal hunt, has enlisted restaurants to join a boycott of Canadian seafood.
But David Pasternack, chef at the chic Manhattan restaurant Esca, said he was never asked to join a boycott of Canadian seafood.
"I don't know who the Humane Society is, so I wouldn't really know who did it or what," Pasternack said.
Moreover, he said, he serves plenty of Canadian seafood.
"If you come to my restaurant right now, I have scallops from Digby, halibut from up north, northern Canada, I do have oysters, [and] P.E.I. mussels," he said.
The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Consumer Freedom, a food industry lobby group, said the HSUS boycott is not what it appears to be.
"In this case, though, the public is being fooled. The boycott is phoney. It is not as advertised," said centre research director David Martosko.
Martosko said his group sampled a third of the companies listed on the boycott. Of them, 62 per cent were unaware they had been listed.
The HSUS recruited pop superstar Paul McCartney and his wife, Heather Mills McCartney, to campaign against the hunt. Both mentioned the boycott during their statement and on an appearance on CNN's Larry King Live.
John Grandi, vice-president of the HSUS, said the boycott has been effective.
"If they think it's not working, why are they worried about it? Of course it's working, and it's working very, very well," Grandi said.
Grandi said since the HSUS boycott began, sales of snow crab have dropped between $150 million and $160 million.
Industry and government officials say the value of the crab industry, though, has been influenced by other factors, from the high Canadian dollar to competition from China.