Seals in BC do more than just look cute and chubby near Victoria’s inner harbour.

The pinniped’s population and their taste for fish is raising environmental concerns, according to a First Nations-led environmental organization, Pacific Balance Pinniped Society.

To respond to the growing number of seals off our shores, the society wants to create a government sanctioned seal and sea lion harvesting policy.

“All of us that care about our salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and other fin fish along with the wildlife that depend upon the resource, must unite to see an expanded harvest become a reality before it’s too late,” said the group in a Facebook post on Monday.

The Society is quick to point out that they are not calling for a cull but a reduction in the population to return the marine mammal population to its historical balance.

While many First Nations communities in BC are permitted to hunt seals and sea lions under the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy agreement with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, this environmental society hopes to see that privilege expanded to all coastal First Nations.

More than just hunting

Reducing the number of seals in BC’s waters has more than just environmental benefits, says the Pacific Balance Pinniped Society.

After the animals have been hunted, the seals could be harvested and turned into products that can be sent to restaurants, the cosmetics industry, and the pet food industry.

“This natural disaster has all been brought on by our over protection of pinnipeds with outdated laws,” says the group.

Last month, the US’ Marine Mammal Act was amended to allow up to 920 sea lions in their north west waters to be hunted every year.

The Pacific Balance Pinniped Society will be meeting with Fisheries and Oceans Canada this week to discuss the possibility of an expanded seal harvest.

“This week shall be the time when we finally hear if our Federal Government is behind what we all know needs to take place for the preservation of our priceless salmon and other fin fish resources of British Columbia,” reads the group’s Facebook page.

“After all, they are more than fish, they are our way of life.”