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Pro-seal hunt media campaign escalates

The Story

Newfoundland premier Frank Moores is fighting fire with fire. In response to a sophisticated media campaign that has seen French actress Brigitte Bardot speak out against the killing of seal pups, Moores has set out to combat the anti-sealing message of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. CBC's the fifth estate is with Moores as he travels the world with his panel of experts, trying to cast the seal hunt in a more positive light. But everywhere Moores goes, IFAW founder Brian Davies is there to publicly challenge him and disrupt his press conferences. Davies has long been the seal hunt's most outspoken critic. He's been arrested numerous times and ultimately banned from the seal hunt, but it hasn't weakened his resolve. IFAW spent $1 million on its media campaign last year, and so did Newfoundland. Despite some hard questions from the fifth estate, Davies may be winning the media war.

Medium: Television
Program: The Fifth Estate
Broadcast Date: March 7, 1978
Guest(s): Brigitte Bardot, Brian Davies, Frank Moores
Host: Eric Malling
Reporter: Bob Johnstone
Duration: 18:47

Did You know?

• On March 22, 1977, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning the seal hunt for humanitarian and conservationist reasons.

• Nine days later, the Newfoundland government announced its plan to launch an international campaign in support of the seal hunt.

• Moores and his team of scientists and government experts travelled to four U.S. cities, four in Canada, and to London and Frankfurt, emphasizing the importance of the seal hunt in a traditional way of life in Newfoundland.

• Besides Brigitte Bardot, other celebrities who protested the seal hunt in the 1970s were Loretta Swit of TV's M*A*S*H* and Pamela Sue Martin of Dynasty. In 1997 a group called Canadians Against the Commercial Seal Hunt came forward to protest the hunt. Among its members were actors William Shatner, Cynthia Dale and Margot Kidder, authors Michael Ondaatje and Farley Mowat, and founder Clayton Ruby, a prominent lawyer.

• Another prominent protester was Franz Weber, a wealthy Swiss industrialist, author and conservationist. In 1977 he proposed the building of an artificial fur plant in Newfoundland. The plant would employ Newfoundlanders who would otherwise be hunting seals, and would produce artificial fur in place of whitecoat pelts for world markets. The plan never went further than a proposal.

• In the late 1970s the annual blessing of the fleet was resurrected in St. John's after an absence of half a century. A religious service was held on the wharf before the sealing ships set out for the floes. The ritual lasted only a few years, during the peak of the protest movement, before dying out again.


Pelts, Pups and Protest: The Atlantic Seal Hunt more