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FUR SEALS, Issue 15638, 31 October 1914
RECKLESS DESTRUCTION. PRDTF.CTTON ADVOCATED. Professor Prince. Commissioner of Canadian Fisheries, in h's report to the New Zealand GoveinnK-nt. on the fishery resources of Dominion waters, refers to the reckless dost-nicfiori of scale in tho southern “ While making my cruise on the Dineinoa 1 had several opportunities of seeing the last remnants of the great .-ca! herds which oneo abounded on a number of roriterms in the southern waters of the Dominion. It is stated that between ISI6 and 1826 100 oealers were permanently settled in Neve Zealand, and the annual t ikes of valuable fur seals, were ononinus, from one seat horn island olcmo during 1814 an 1 1815, no less than 4CO.GCO skins being nhiitined and taken to London. The .v .dinar ves.wd Pegasus took to London 100.000 of these, but they were so badly nandled that they heated during the. voyage and iv. re ruinvd, so that they had to bo dug out of the hold and sold as manure —a frightful waste of valuable siting. The methods of killing were of a most, cruel, indiscriminate, and wasteful character, and the result is that the Now Zealand seal rookeries, which should be yielding enormous annual returns, are practically of no value or importance so far as their production is concerned. The establishment of M-aling prohibitions in recent- years has imt had the effect of restoring’ tho numbers of this valuable animal; but this is explained by the fact that no patrol i.s maintained. and the destruction of seals goes or undetected, thereby defeating the object of the prohibitions. A fi.-w score seals, are all that remain on .v>mo of tho rocky ledges which I visited and which once almunded with the fur real. The scalers m fminer days carried on their pursuit like madmen, using no discretion, and simply slaughtering right and loft, old and young, males and females. The numbers killed were sometimes so great that many pa.-ecd into a. state of putrefaction without either being skinned or utilised. No intelligent person can doubt that this reckless destruction, carried on without any supervision on control, by sealing crews front all parts of the world, but chiefly from Britain and the United States, liar, lieou a great mistake. The example 01 the United States shows what a. valuable asset fur-seal rookeries are. if properly protected and supervised. It is well known that the fur-seal industry of Alaska has yielded to the United States Government an enormous revenue, and, with the fishery has paid many times over the price which secured from Russia this au-tic territory.
New Zealand can still restore- her fursea) industry by the following measures: (1) A prohibition for a number of years of all seal killing and handling of seal skins; (2) a regular patrol around the shores and islands frequented by seals; (5) the prohibition of all sealing operations excepting under a, licence issued by the Dominion. Government.
There in no force in the argument which has been urged that fur-seals are reducing the supply of fish in the neighborhood of the rookeries. Fur-scale feed largely on inferior species, which are of no marketable value; and, as is well known, in Behring Sea the presence cf enormous herds of fur-seala has no effect 011 the gi\-at abundance of the. valuable fish required for commercial purposes. While thus strongly recommending th? protection of the tur-seal rookeries and the taking cf steps for restoring them to plenitude, I make no reference to the various species of hair-seal, such as the sea-leopard and harbor-seal. The harm deno by these seals, I am of opinion, is exaggerated; and scientific evidence does not' support tho contention that schools of hair-seak seriously affect the supply of fish at sea.
FUR SEALS, Issue 15638, 31 October 1914
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