Why Boycotting Canadian Seafood could Save Seals with Cat Cora

January 21, 2011

Chefs for Seals – Making a Difference Where it Hurts

Stunning photography by fashion photographer Nigel Barker captures the beauty of these creatures in their natural habitat.

Chilling fact:  The gruesome act of seal hunting is still alive and well.  According to the Humane Society of the US website, ninety-seven percent of the seals killed are younger than 3 months old, primarily for their fur, which is exported for use in fashion markets. Canada’s commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth, with nearly 1 million seals killed in the past five years alone. 

But there’s hope. 

Chefs for Seals, an organization of chefs and restaurateurs united with The Humane Society of the US and celeb fashion photographer Nigel  Barker, are aiming to put it to an end with a movement that hits the heart and the wallet.   On January 10th the tour stopped in Los Angeles with hosts Cat Cora and Nigel Barker, and I got to attend along with a bevy of LA’s best chefs, stars and supporters.  We got to observe the breathtaking exhibit of seal stills by Barker accompanied by unsettling descriptions of their brutal slaughter, a sea of red taking over the pristine white landscape.  But the call to action for all of us was clear – boycott Canadian seafood.

So what does Canadian seafood have to do with all of this? It turns out that the majority of the seal hunts or ‘sealing’ takes place in Canada and is part of Canada’s fishing industry.  By encouraging restaurants, chefs and consumers to boycott Canadian seafood, it hits hard financially, as it’s estimated the the U.S. accounts for about two-thirds of its consumption.

The Red Lobster restaurant chain has gotten a lot of heat in their kitchens as the world’s largest purchaser of Canadian seafood. However, over 5,500 restaurants and grocery stores have joined the boycott.  Before you frequent your favorite seafood purveyor, visit The Humane Society’s website for more information on those who support the effort at http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/seal_hunt

It turns out we can all make a difference and a real impact with the color green – our dollars.

Q&A With Cat Cora

Mareya: Why did you align with HSUS and the Chefs for Seals initiative?  

Cat Cora: I had the honor of cooking an all Vegan dinner for The HSUS at the Sundance Film Festival a few years ago, and have wanted to get involved & help where I could ever since.

Mareya: Do you feel that by boycotting Canadian seafood, we’ll be able to stop the seal hunts?

Cat Cora:  I think that with chefs nationwide all joining together & boycotting Canadian seafood, by no longer providing the US market, this mentality will spread worldwide & eventually we can put an end to these unnecessary slaughters.

Mareya:  As a chef, how realistic is it to completely avoid Canadian seafood?  Does it limit your offerings?                                             

Cat Cora:  Not at all~ There are plenty of other sources offering great seafood, but time has to be put in to search for them — Definitely worth the time spent to save so many baby seals’ lives!

Mareya:  What would you like to tell consumers of seafood and our readers about Chefs for Seals?                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Cat Cora:  If you’re a chef & or in charge of sourcing product for your restaurant/shop/market, please sign the pledge & commit to boycotting Canadian seafood.  If you’re a consumer, please ask when dining out where the seafood came from to best avoid any seafood products from Canada, and always buy more locally farmed seafood from your fish market or grocery store.  Talk to your purveyors to find out where they caught the fish, and to ensure they follow only humane practices.


Dishing with Cat Cora at the Humane Society’s Chefs for Seals Event

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