Please click this link to listen to the interview with Doug Chiasson on CBC, starting at 9 minutes and 56 seconds:
Host: Selling seals to Canadians is the focus of a new education and awareness campaign on seals and seal products, which was launched this week. We have Doug Chiasson, the executive director at the Fur Institute of Canada, here to tell us more about it. Welcome, Doug.
Doug Chiasson: Thank you for having me.
Host: Can you give us an overview of this campaign and what it aims to achieve?
Doug Chiasson: Certainly. Our campaign, titled “Good for You, Good for the Environment,” is designed to introduce more Canadians to seal products, including seal fur, seal meat, and seal oil as a nutritional supplement for both people and pets. We want to raise awareness about the benefits of these products.
Host: What will the campaign look like?
Doug Chiasson: The campaign will primarily focus on digital ads and video ads that people will come across on their favorite websites and social media platforms.
Host: I’ve seen some of the videos in which a middle-class family is shown enjoying seal products, and there’s someone applying seal oil to dog food for its Omega-3 benefits. Will the campaign feature a combination of videos and social media content?
Doug Chiasson: Yes, you’re right. We have five videos in addition to several digital ads. These materials will highlight Canadian seal products produced by manufacturers from across the country.
Host: Is the campaign primarily aimed at a Canadian audience?
Doug Chiasson: Yes, our campaign primarily targets the Canadian audience, with a particular focus on non-traditional areas such as Toronto and Montreal.
Host: Given the historical perceptions surrounding seal products, especially in regions like Newfoundland and Labrador, it seems like a challenging endeavor. How do you plan to change people’s views?
Doug Chiasson: We’ve been working on this for about two years with a previous campaign that aimed to combat disinformation and misconceptions surrounding the seal harvest. We’ve had positive results. When people have access to accurate information about the seal harvest and its impact on the marine environment, they tend to be more open to the idea of seal products or at least not opposed to those who choose to purchase them.
Host: I recently attended a Senate committee hearing on the seal fishery, where there was a discussion about the challenges of selling seal products. It was mentioned that one of the biggest obstacles is not logical objections but rather fear-based objections. How do you address these fears and concerns?
Doug Chiasson: Fear-based objections are indeed a challenge. We emphasize the positive impact of the seal harvest on the marine ecosystem. For instance, there are species in the Gulf of St. Lawrence that are at risk due to seal populations. We also draw parallels to other environmental campaigns, such as those against overfishing, to show that supporting the Canadian seal harvest aligns with broader environmental conservation efforts.
Host: Market access seems to be a significant hurdle, especially with regulations like the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. How are you approaching this issue?
Doug Chiasson: Market access is a crucial aspect of our campaign. We believe that it’s essential for the government to engage in conversations with the U.S. about the Marine Mammal Protection Act. We haven’t yet explored whether they would be open to changes because we haven’t initiated that conversation. We aim to work collaboratively to address these trade barriers and open up opportunities for Canadian seal products in the international market.
Host: Is there a platform where our listeners can learn more about the campaign?
Doug Chiasson: Yes, absolutely. To find out more about our campaign and access our marketing materials, visit CanadianSealProducts.com.
Host: Thank you, Doug, for sharing insights into this important campaign. We appreciate your time.