letters | seals set off discord on the cape

Group seeks middle ground on seal influx in face of polarized debate

As Stan Grossfeld’s “Seals of disapproval” points out (Sports, Aug. 27), the Seal Abatement Coalition seeks a middle ground on seal-human coexistence and, to that end, advocates objective, science-based research into the environmental and economic implications of the seal influx. But, as the article makes clear, there are many who would polarize the debate.

Sarah Oktay poses the straw man of repealing the Marine Mammal Protection Act and characterizes that as “a nuclear option.” But no sensible person advocates repealing the entire legislation, and the Seal Abatement Coalition certainly does not.

Sharon Young of the Humane Society says that there is still “an enormous population” of gray seals “in Canada that comes [into US waters] and goes.” If, as she says, killing 10,000 seals wouldn’t make a difference to their numbers, why are they still federally protected?


The Seal Abatement Coalition does not advocate a return to killing, culling, or harming gray seals. We agree with Young that “we have a stewardship responsibility,” but we believe that stewardship applies to our environment as a whole and should not be used as justification for perpetuating extraordinary protection of a single species whose population has demonstrably recovered.

Get Arguable in your inbox:
Jeff Jacoby on everything from politics to pet peeves to the passions of the day.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

We believe it is time to consider defined exceptions to the Marine Mammal Protection Act that would return gray seals to a state of natural coexistence with other living creatures.

Peter Howell

Founding director

Seal Abatement Coalition