England: Robert Confronts Ex UK PM John Major – and Reminds Him of His Lack of Action for Russian Seal Pups.


Above and Below – A Russian Seal Pup ‘Netted’ and ready for transport to a farm

– there to be slaughtered for its fur.

Access The Yearly Kill Table:

Kill Table

Robert – Campaigning to Save Russian Seal Pups

November 2012 – It was really great to hear from an old campaigner friend during this last week. I have had the pleasure of calling Robert (Bob) a good friend and fellow activist in the past.

Please do not be fooled that the ban on the Russian seal pups slaughter has very much to do with any campaign work associated with big international welfare organisations – because it has not.

It is only down to the continued persistence and fighting by Robert over many years that this has happened.

He has been the one man dedicated to stopping the hunting of seal pups in the Russian Federation, a man who has had no financial backing from anyone else with any of his campaigning, he has funded everything himself; but a person who has achieved the magnificent result of stopping the Russian seal hunt purely through his persistence and his dedication to protecting these beautiful animals.

Below are a few photographs which show Robert in action. Our campaigning over many, many years took us to London, the European Union in Brussels, and for Robert especially, many many places across the UK.  We handed in campaign postcards at Downing Street, and met with EU Commissioners to try and get our message about pelts entering the EU illegally via routes in Northern Europe.  We slept in cardboard boxes on the streets of Brussels to save on hotel money which could instead, go to the seals campaigning.

Nothing but simple support from the British government with regard to the Russian seal pups slaughter campaign was asked by Robert for many years, and his requests were always denied and ignored. I think it fair to say that Robert, like all of us, was simply labelled as an ‘animal rights activist’ and that the true spectrum of Roberts desires was simply ignored by the UK government who wished simply to label him as ‘trouble’ and keep him out of the way.

As you can see below, and as we say here in the UK, ‘what goes round comes round’; so it was great to read that after more than 17 years of campaigning for the Russian seals, Robert was able to confront former UK Prime Minister John Major during his recent book signing visit to Kent County. The articles from Kent newspapers, which are given below, explain the Robert / John Major meeting which took place recently. As you can see, John Major was left rather dumbstruck by Robert suddenly appearing at the signing and bringing up the issue of Russian baby seal pup slaughter once again.  Mr. Major; an issue from the past has returned to haunt you once again and let the people know that you personally did nothing to support efforts to get the slaughter stopped.

Despite the lack luster attitude of John Major, in 2009 the Russian federal fisheries agency issued an order to protect seal pups up to the age of one year. President Putin (of Russia) called the Russian annual cull a ‘bloody industry’. It was after this that the order to protect seal pups in Russia was introduced.

Congratulations Robert; not only did you become the real man behind the cessation of Russian seal pup killing, but you have now (November 2012) once again encountered one of your old ‘sparring partners’ in the form of John Major, who once again in 2012, has been reminded of his failings from the past to protect Russian seal pups at a time when he was prime minister and as such, was able to voice a strong opposition to the Russian authorities about what was going on. John Major ignored these requests and the devoted dedication for baby Russian seals shown by people such as Robert.

Robert, the kind and gentle man from a humble Kentish Town, who decided to do the right thing and fight tooth and nail for the Russian seal pups, eventually achieved his aims.  Bob, I was happy to call your friend then, as I am now; and I very much respect and admire your dedication in following through your visions over so many years, the vision being that the Russian seal pup slaughter with one day stop.

Now it has.  I was happy to stand alongside you as a fellow campaigner / activist in achieving your / our aims and goals for innocent baby seals. We both have many individual and personal memories of what the Russian seal pup campaign was about for of us as individual people; and we worked together on the issue, campaigned together and eventually, achieved together.

But in my own eyes, the cessation of the Russian seal pup slaughter was down to one campaigner and one campaigner only, and his name was Robert Mouland from Folkestone in Kent (England).  Don’t let the world say otherwise.

Mark –  SAV Founder.

Speaking for the seal pups at Downing Street, London (above);

and at the EU in Brussels, Belgium (Below).

Some old campaign data:

Harp Seals – Sub Order: Pinnipedia

Weight Range: 80-190kgs

Average Length: 160 – 170cm

Normal Life Span: Up to 35 Years.

Gestation for the harp seal is 10 months; with females giving birth after they have come onto the Winter pack ice in February or early March.  The new born pups are yellowish in colour but after around two days they turn white; the distinctive “Whitecoat” we all know and love.  New born pups usually weigh around 5 to 11kgs and are 85cms in length.

Pups are nursed for around 12 days by their mothers, taking milk containing up to 45% fat content.  After this time and during which the pup will triple its weight (around 35-40kgs), it is abandoned by its mother.  After being abandoned, the pups start to moult and are known as “ragged jackets”.  When the coat is completely shed after around 18 days, the pup becomes a “beater” with a short silvery coat with dark spots.

Karelia is a huge area within the White Sea region of the Russian Northwest, located about 250km from the Russian-Finnish border.  It is here that Russian seal pup hunting has largely taken place.  Commercial sealing in what was the former USSR was stopped in 1965, except for pups which were still allowed to be hunted.

The number of baby seals murdered annually for the period 1989 to 2003 are as follows:

Year Total
1989 Hunt Quota Given but not confirmed
1990 30,000 Estimated
1991 Data not known
1992 18,183
1993 19,925
1994 30,500
1995 30,500
1996 31,300
1997 31,380
1998 13,000
1999 30,000
2000 38,302
2001 39,106
2002 34,187
2003 37,936

Pups are murdered in the most inhumane manner; by being clubbed to death or spiked using the gaff.  Those that are not killed directly on the ice by clubbing are delivered to ‘Seal Farms’ as part of the on-going fur production system.  Whitecoats which are murdered on the ice are given a blow across the head or nose by the blunt end of the gaff.  Often after this, the spiked end of the weapon is driven deep into the brain (Spiking).  Pups are not bled on the ice because of fear that this process could damage the pelt.

Hunting takes place in early March. Sealers are transported to specific locations on the ice using chartered helicopters costing around $1000 per hour.  The returning helicopters bring batches of dead seals for processing.  Dead or unconscious pups are loaded into special nets which are collected by the returning helicopters.  Once the full quota of the hunt is reached, attention is turned to the catching of youngsters for seal farming.

Seal farming is common practice, and causes a great deal more stress on the pups than direct killing on the ice.  Pups succumb to disease due to stress and overcrowding, often seen by bleeding from the mouth; something never seen in the wild.  On the farm(s), 24 hour guards are employed.  Pups are killed in batches of around 50 when their coats have reached the right stage, by being injected under the flipper with a drug called ‘Dithyllinum’.

Dithyllinum produces death by immobilising the skeletal system respiratory muscles; thus causing fatal suffocation.  There is no depressing action on the brain and only when given in very high doses does the animal suffocate.  If an animal is given a dosage which only paralyses it, it is impossible to see whether it is dead or still alive.  Thus, some animals are paralysed rather than killed by the drug; and consequently will be skinned alive.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has said of ‘Dithyllinum’:  ‘The use of these drugs to produce euthanasia is strongly condemned’ !.

Around 100 men work on the seal killing on the ice for about one week.  Working in teams of 12 to 15, they keep in touch by radio and move to wherever the large numbers of pups are.  The local population from the hunt areas are not wealthy; and the kill can earn each hunter the equivalent of three months wages; so competition is great to be included.  An alternative economic enterprise would need to bring income into these communities.  But Eco-Tourism IS now under way, with organisations including Harp Seal watching as part of the schedule for the holiday.  Back in the mid-nineties; the Arkhangelsk Ecology Committee (AEC) agreed in principle to recommend seal pup quota cuts as Eco-tourism develops.

But it still happens in Canada !! – Fight It Please.

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