Fur set to fly at Nanaimo open house

FurCanada’s open house will kickstart campaigns for a seal, sea lion and sea otter commercial fishery in British Columbia.

By SeaWestNews

The fur is set to fly in Nanaimo this weekend, with an open house to kickstart campaigns for a seal, sea lion and sea otter commercial fishery in British Columbia.

FurCanada, a Vancouver Island company, hopes the event on Dec. 14, will raise awareness about the overpopulation of seal and sea lions which are decimating B.C.’s endangered and threatened chinook salmon stocks.

Thomas Sewid, who is President of Pacific Balance Marine Management, which is the organization leading the development of the seal, sea lion and sea otter industry estimates that of the 27 million chinook smolts produced a year in the Salish Sea (wild and hatchery) the pinnipeds are consuming about 24 million of them.

The hunting of seals and sea lions has been banned on Canada’s West Coast for more than 40 years. Fisheries and Oceans Canada estimates there are 105,000 harbour seals in B.C. coastal waters, roughly 10 times the number recorded in the early 1970s.

The agency has allowed a small-scale “test” harvest carried out under the provisions of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy, which gives some First Nations harvesting and management rights for food and ceremonial purposes.

A University of B.C.-led study published last year in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences also found that “changes in the numbers of seals since the 1970s were associated with a 74-per-cent decrease in the maximum sustainable yield in chinook stocks.”

Unlike, The U.S. which has allowed a lethal removal program allowing American native tribes to kill sea lions that are threatening endangered salmon runs to extinction, Sewid’s group wants to further develop a market for B.C. pinniped products in Asia.

“FurCanada is striving to turn Nanaimo into a world recognized center for fur fashion. It only makes sense, seeing as we have such a diverse First Nations community and our island home is located at the doorstep to the monster Asian markets,” stated a company official, Calvin E. Kania.

“Working not only with First Nations to develop their fur markets, we also have been catering to the needs of those interested in furs, taxidermy, skulls and tusks since 1986. Presently we are purchasing furs from throughout Canada from First Nations harvesters, Inuit and licensed trappers. We also purchase from fur farmers.

“This open house is to enlighten locals that a vibrant fur garment manufacturing and other accessory facility is here on your door step making products for locals and supplying international markets,” he said in a press release.

Sewid, Hereditary Chief Roy Jones Jr. of the Haida First Nation and Richard Harry C.E.O. of the Aboriginal Aquaculture Association say they have identified numerous markets for all parts of seals and sea lions from furs, human food consumption, pet food consumption and medicinal needs from the Omega 3 fatty acids found in the oil.

“Our organization anticipates over 4000 B.C. jobs from seal and sea lion harvests, if the Canadian Federal Department of Fisheries & Oceans allows a licensed harvest,” said Sewid.

Canada exports furs worth about $100 million to China, including products from the legal East Coast seal hunt.

The hunting and trapping industry in Canada is worth about $1 billion.