Move over, Viagra™, there's a fleshy old boner-maker in town.
In a predictably controversial move last month, the Fur Institute of Canada commissioned a proposal for the Federal Fisheries Department aimed at, among other things, the creation of new and viable markets for seal penises in Asia. It's an attempt to capitalize on the long-held belief that animal penises are a natural enhancer of male virility.
The plan, which would call for the killing of nearly 140,000 grey seals over a span of five years, would see a Canadian investment of nearly $9 million during that period. The program is intended to create new markets throughout Asia for the sale of seal pelts, oils, meats, and, most importantly, cocks. Which inevitably prompts us to ask: Do Asian countries really want all those seal dicks, anyway?
Fortunately for enthusiasts of writing about seal dicks, the answer appears to be yes.
China in particular is not only home to a chain of restaurants featuring animal-penis-based main courses, but it is also a thriving hotbed of black-market activity where consumers can illegally purchase dicks from a variety of animals.
It's also the country where seal penises established their magical strength-enhancing qualities: During the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Chinese competitors were discovered taking Dalishen Oral Liquid, a since discontinued brand of oil capsules containing pressed and ground seal penises and testicles.
The desire of Canadian fisheries to serve Asian countries and communities a hearty helping of dicks appears to fly in the face of the long-held notion that seal hunting equates to viciously killing baby seals. The newly proposed hunting guidelines would ensure to prospective markets that their imports are a product of "humane harvesting," as opposed to the head-smashing seal-clubbing of the past.
Baby seals, traditionally hunted for their pure white pelts (though the practice was banned in 1987 for harp seal pups and hooded seal pups), wouldn't besought out by hunters, simply because their junk hasn't matured enough to prove their worth in the penis market. This would mean hunters would be seeking out larger, more fully-grown grey seals and, after the seals were killed (with the use of guns, not clubs), their pelt, meat and four- to seven-inch members (depending on whether or not it was a lucky seal) would be duly separated and sold.
When asked about the proposal by VICE, Dion Dakins, chairman of the Fur Institute of Canada and CEO of Carino Processing, was hesitant to talk about seal penises, focusing instead on the potential of the seal as a whole.
"The various commodities of seals are in demand in numerous places, and there's opportunities for all exports," said Dakins. "We're in a position in history where protein [as well as Omega 3s, a key component of seal fat] has never been in higher demand or higher value. Textiles are perfectly adequate. What hasn't been adequate is the way that animal rights groups [react to the hunt]—they're not welfare groups, the International Fund for Animal Welfare [IFAW] has no interests in improving the welfare aspects of the hunt."
In classic pro/con fashion, director of the IFAW Sheryl Fink believes that, as well as being a waste of taxpayers' money, the hunt as a whole is pretty much bullshit.
"The whole idea that our government would be promoting consumption of penises to improve virility when there's… I mean there's no evidence that [it] works," said Fink. "It's pretty shocking. It's the same philosophy of those people who consume rhinoceros horn, or tiger bone…we've seen what happens to wildlife when we go down this road.
"There's never been a market for the meat, there's never been a market for the fur, and now they're turning to the penis as virtually the only part of the animal that they can find a market for."
Reinvigorating the seal hunt could prove to be a small economic success—particularly in Newfoundland, as seal populations along the province's west coast make up 70 percent of the entire St. Lawrence Gulf seal population. Let's say that the FIC's proposed "reinvigoration" of the hunt was successful, and Canadian hunters could now find markets to sell seal goods.
The FIC's commissioned proposal believes that, in its first year, a reinvigorated harvest could draw in upwards of $4 million for 70,000 seals—an enticing pay bump from 2010, where sealers barely scraped together $1.3 million worth of goods.
And here's where the dicks come in. During the prime of overall seal value in 1996, the sale of seal penises accumulated to nearly 9.6 percent of all seal product sales—a percentage that, barring the de-valuation of cocks, almost $385,000 of that $4 million revenue could be generated by seal penis alone.
The increased demand of seal goods could create jobs not only in the sealing industry, but subsequently in the fisheries of Newfoundland, where fishermen have for years complained that seals were responsible for eating all of the fish considered to be of any worth.
For Dakins, the true challenge seems to be the historically damning public image of the seal hunt getting in the way of potential opportunities for fisherman, sealers, and businesses to prosper.
"[Sealing is] no different from the harvest of any animal around the world. It's not different to raising cattle, pigs, chickens, for our consumption. It's a perfect, edible, non-edible producer of products. No matter what way you look at it, seals are going to have to be hunted to maintain viable fisheries. That's it."
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