IFAW Statement: Time for a real debate on the commercial seal hunt
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW www.ifaw.org) commends Senator Mac Harb for re-introducing a bill to end the commercial seal hunt and is hopeful a rational debate about it will finally happen in Canada.
Despite decades of support from the Canadian government, the market outlook for seal products remains bleak. The European Union market is closed to non-Inuit seal products; Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have banned the import of harp seal pelts, shutting off 90% of Canada’s exports; the Chinese seal-meat deal has not been finalized; and even $3.6 million in bailout money from the Newfoundland government has failed to draw large numbers of sealers to the hunt so far this year, continuing the downward trend that has been seen in recent years.
It is time for the Canadian government to face the reality that commercial sealing is neither viable nor necessary, and there are no indications that it will become so in the future. The continued subsidization of this industry will not benefit fishermen over the long term. Any government support provided to the sealing industry should be in the form of a restructuring and transition plan to end commercial sealing and compensate affected individuals.
Senator Harb’s bill is supported by public opinion polls that repeatedly show the majority of Canadians would like to see an end to the commercial seal hunt. At the very least, the Canadian government should debate this issue on behalf of those citizens. It’s time.
IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) was established in 1969 and its founding campaign was in opposition to Canada’s commercial seal hunt. IFAW has more than 40 years of experience raising awareness, documenting and opposing the cruel commercial hunts for seals in Canada and around the world.