Nfld. & Labrador

Seal flipper giveaway hoping to promote awareness of N.L. industry

Supporters of the province's seal industry are working to promote awareness of the industry's sustainability through new initiatives this month.

Supporters aim to clear up misinformation in the industry, store owner says

Natural Boutique co-owner Kerry Shears says he wanted to show how many Newfoundlanders support the seal industry by giving away seal flippers at his store. (Ryan Cooke/CBC)

Supporters of the province's seal industry are working to promote awareness of the industry's sustainability through new initiatives this month.

The Natural Boutique, a store selling sealskin and fur products in downtown St. John's, partnered with Sharing the Harvest, a newly formed community group that distributes local moose and caribou meat to local food banks, to give away seal flippers to customers over the weekend.

Kerry Shears, co-owner of the boutique, called the giveaway an "anti-protest" against people who have previously protested the seal hunt in front of his store.

"Every time they come and we put it out there, we get a lot of support," he said.

"But we wanted to finally do something to show that there's a lot of Newfoundlanders who support the industry. So we came up with the idea where we actually are giving out seal flippers via donation."

Each package includes two seal flippers, cleaned and vacuum-sealed in South Dildo. (Ryan Cooke/CBC)

Each package comes with two cleaned and vacuum-sealed flippers from the Carino Seal Plant in South Dildo. Shears said donations will go toward Sharing the Harvest.

Barry Fordham, director of Sharing the Harvest, hopes the work can help show the sustainability of the seal hunt and inform the public after the provincial government allowed game meat to be donated to food banks in November.

"The acronym is SOS: Support Our Sealers," Fordham said.

Barry Fordham, director of Sharing the Harvest, hopes to clear the stigma surrounding the seal industry. (Ryan Cooke/CBC)

"It is very sustainable, other than what you hear in the media.… It is very ethical these days as well, because there's all kinds of government regulations that have been put in place to make it as humane as possible."

Shears agrees.

"It's just a lot of misinformation about the sustainability and everything of the industry," he added. "Anybody who knows the seal hunt, it's one of the biggest managed hunts out there in the world right now."

"It's something that is part of our heritage, and it's going to be going for many, many years."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Ryan Cooke

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