Too often when we think we’re helping the planet we’re really making things worse. That’s the case here in Greenland vs. Greenpeace. Check out this headline:
“Europe’s ban on seal products has been awful for Greenland’s Inuits, and for seals.”
Wait! This doesn’t quite make sense! Don’t you have to kill seals in order to get seal products? So banning seal products should help seals, right?
The truth is the 16 million seals on Greenland’s coastline are devouring anything that swims in the ocean resembling a fish. Yes, you read that right: 16 million seals. That’s more seals in Greenland than people who live in the states of Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Hawaii, Idaho, West Virginia and Nebraska combined.
The three most common types of seals in Greenland are the ringed seal, the harp seal, and the hooded seal. Each needs to eat between 4-6% of its body weight daily. With each seal weighing in between 150 and 900 pounds–depending on species–that’s somewhere between 8 and 45 pounds of fish per seal. Assuming an overall average of just 15 pounds of fish per seal, that’s a staggering 240,000,000 pounds of fish in the waters of Greenland that get consumed by seals every single day!
The growing number of seals must battle each other for the remaining food and habitat. As the article headlined above pointed out, their unhealthy population density is also prone to spreading diseases–influenza currently being one of primary concern. And because the seals are chomping away at the quality of fisheries, 50,000 Greenlanders (i.e. the entire population of the island) are suffering because their economy relies 90% on exporting sea food.
That’s exactly why Greenlanders were lobbying the European Parliament a few weeks ago.
But haven’t there always been seals eating fish in Greenland? Sure. The difference is that it hasn’t always been against the law to sell seal products in Europe—the EU banned seal imports in 2009 as a result of Greenpeace’s “save the seals” campaign. Seal pelt exports have dropped by 90%.
Because of Greenpeace, “Seal hunting was deemed a universally evil practice; individuals and governments overlooking the sustainable, humane methods native Greenlanders and other indigenous Arctic peoples have employed for centuries. Today, they use rifles; pregnant females and the young are off limits. In many ways, it’s no different from deer hunting.”
In efforts to protect seals at all costs, fish species are getting annihilated, seals are too crowded and spreading diseases, and native Greenlanders are out of jobs. This is a very typical result of environmental protectionism, I’d say. Way to unsave the planet, Greenpeace.