National Geographic : 1976 Jan
Like waves of attacking infantrymen, Newfoundlanders fan out from their ice bound ship during the 1929 seal hunt. In July of that year NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC published a detailed account of the sealers' annual campaign. The hunters in those days took some 200,000 animals annually; in the 1830's, during sealing's heyday, the total in one year reached an estimated 700,000 pelts. There were no quotas. In the late 1960's Canada began to regulate hunting methods, limiting the size of the club and specifying how it should be wielded (below). The early 1970's brought increasing restrictions, including a ban on sealing by large vessels in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. An official Canadian study recommended phasing © HOLLOWAY(LEFT); JOHN DEVISSER out the hunt. Instead, a quota of 150,000 seals was set for the western Atlantic by international agreement. Opponents call the hunt barbaric; de fenders say it is humane and painless. Fishermen add a third voice to the con troversy, claiming the voracious seals decimate fish schools and must be hunted to preserve the fishing industry. Mean while, the author and colleagues analyze their census findings in a quest for depend able data. Preliminary analysis gives them serious doubt about the wisdom of con tinuing large-scale commercial sealing.