Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

“feelin’ a moratorium coming on”


For those who are unfamiliar with the Cod Moratorium here on the east coast of Canada, I’ll explain it in short. By the early 1990s, because of the declining amount of cod stock here on the east coast, the federal government put in place a Cod Moratorium in 1992. Since then, fishermen of Newfoundland and Labrador have only been allowed to fish cod at certain times of the year, usually in July and September, and for only a week at a time. While most agree that something had to be done to save the species, the act has created great hardship for those dependent on the fishery for their livelihood.

Since the time the act was put in place, many people have noted that the seal population has increased dramatically — in part due to the fact that there is no large annual seal hunt these days. The belief is that the population of the cod has been kept low due to the ever increasing number of seals.

I made this seal look as if he is lying on his back with his flipper in his stomach, looking like he is hungry or, at the same time, looking like he is full. The use of the seal along with this title is a play on the fact of what many people here think. The seal is content because there will be plenty of cod now the people aren’t fishing them — and doesn’t mind that people blame the seal for the low cod stocks.

—Michael Massie

Michael Massie

Michael Massie


Inuit, Métis

Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

(1962- )

Massie’s work is a reflection of his mixed Inuit, Métis and Scottish heritage. In it, he investigates both traditional and contemporary themes. He has achieved renown for his innovative teapots that combine themes and symbols from his native Inuit culture with European traditions. Massie has been twice short-listed for the coveted Prix Saidye Bronfman and has an extensive international reputation. His work has been shown in North America and Europe, including the National Gallery of Canada. He was elected a member of Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2011.