Last year, IFAW produced a fictional ministry of the Canadian Government - The Department of Obsolete Industry - to bring attention to the Government of Canada’s ridiculous, last-ditch efforts at propping up an antiquated industry with your tax dollars.
Seals were originally hunted exclusively for their blubber, which was primarily used as a fuel oil, burned in the lamps of European cities. During the “golden age” of the seal hunt—from 1818–1862—18.3 million seals were killed, and harp seals were nearly brought to the brink of extinction. It wasn’t until the 1940s that seals began being hunted for their pelts, and only because electricity had made the blubber industry all but obsolete.
Over the last 40 years, the federal government has spent tens of millions of dollars trying to keep the commercial seal hunt afloat. You probably thought we were joking about house paint and blubber diesel, but government-funded research into these and numerous other absurd and desperate schemes continues.
The government wages a constant spin campaign in an attempt to curry favour with fishermen who have seen their livelihoods devastated by mismanagement of the cod fishery and the havoc wreaked on ocean ecosytems by climate change.
But despite four decades of effort, all of the tax dollars spent, all of the aggressive lobbying efforts, all of the meetings with representatives of foreign governments, and all of the photo-ops in sealskin vests, the sealing industry is still sinking. Since the late 19th century, demand for seal products has steadily declined. Nearly all major international markets are shut to Canadian seal products, and there is nearly no domestic demand.
We aren’t living in the 19th century. We don’t need to commercially hunt seals—we haven’t needed to since Edison invented the lightbulb. It’s time to make the seal hunt history. Please use the form below to email your MP and ask that the government stop funding an obsolete industry.
Click here if you’d like to go back to the Department of Obsolete Industry website.