Former 'Baywatch' star Pamela Anderson has joined other celebrities in a new ad campaign to save seals from the annual hunt on Canada’s East Coast.
The Canadian-born actress in Toronto to launch her animal-friendly clothing line at Fashion Week, visited the Ontario provincial legislature on today to introduce the new ads.
Produced by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), the ads - showing celebrities wearing white T-shirts with a drawing of a baby seal – also feature singers Sarah McLachlan and Kelly Osborne, actresses Jennie Garth and Jorja Fox, and gossip blogger Perez Hilton, among others.
Anderson’s ad reads, “What do I have in common with Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and the Dalai Lama? We all oppose the massacre of baby seals. It’s time to end Canada’s shameful slaughter.”
Outside the Ontario legislature building, 52-year-old Anderson cuddled a seal mascot and told supporters she wanted to prevent the “barbaric massacre” of seals.
“When I travel all over the world, the Canadian seal hunt is a huge issue that people talk to me about,” she said. “So I’m trying to save some embarrassment.”
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea called Anderson’s remarks disappointing and suggested she spend time with East Coast sealers to understand the hunt’s importance.
“Hollywood celebrities are not going to dictate policy in Canada because we make decisions that are based on science and consultation with Canadians,” Shea told the Canadian Press.
Canada’s East Coast seal hunt, which occurs annually from mid-November to mid-May, mostly in Newfoundland and Labrador and in the Gulf of St Lawrence, is the largest in the world, killing an average of 300,000 harp seals every year.
Animal rights groups have protested the annual hunt, saying it is cruel, poorly monitored and provides little economic benefit. Seal hunters and Canadian authorities say it is sustainable, humane and provides income for villagers in isolated northern indigenous Inuit communities.
Earlier this year, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper dined on seal meat in a gesture of support for the country’s embattled seal hunting industry. Canada’s Governor General Michaelle Jean made international headlines this summer when she helped carve a seal and ate part of its heart in support of the traditional aboriginal hunt.
Peta claims it is not targeting the aboriginal hunt but the large-scale East Coast commercial hunt.
Peta says its ads will appear in entertainment magazines and on blogs and will be tweeted in many languages. The aim is to keep pressure on the government year-round instead of just during the spring when protests occur during the hunt.
Anderson said baby seals are bludgeoned in front of their mothers before they have their first swim. But Shea said the killing of baby seals hasn’t been practised in Canada since the early ’80s. Activists focus on it because of its emotional appeal, Shea said.
“They still use the pictures of white seal pups, which are very cute, and of course they’re bleeding red blood on white ice,” she said. “It’s all very dramatic, but it doesn’t happen.”
European Union nations gave their final approval in July to a ban on imports of seal products in an effort to force Canada to end its annual seal hunt.
The new EU rule offers narrow exemptions so Inuit communities from Canada, Greenland and elsewhere can continue traditional hunts, but bars them from large-scale trading of their pelts and other seal goods in Europe.