Every year, the frozen landscape off Canada’s East Coast is stained with blood, as tens of thousands of baby seals are brutally slaughtered on the ice so their skins can be sold for luxury products.
IFAW was founded in 1969 to stop this cruel hunt for seals. By the 1980s, our work, and the outrage of millions of people around the world, led to a significant victory as imports of whitecoat harp seals and blueback hooded seals were banned in Europe.
But in the late 1990s, despite intense international pressure, the Canadian government did the unthinkable and poured millions of dollars into promoting the slaughter of harp seals, even increasing quotas. Today, ignoring clear evidence of the cruelty of seal hunting and the global outcry against it, the Canadian government continues to support the industry. But as it continues, the international pressure to end seal hunting grows.
In August 2010, the European Parliament and Council of the European Union’s ban of the trade in commercial seal products went into effect. The ban prohibits the importation, exportation, and sale of all commercial harp and hooded seal products in the European Union, and marked an enormous triumph in the battle to end the cruel and unnecessary slaughter of seals.
Another major victory was won in fall of 2011 when the largest market for seal products slammed shut after the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and the Russian Federation banned the import and export of harp seal skins. According to the Government of Canada, Russia imported 90% of Canada's seal pelts.
Today, Canada’s commercial seal hunt costs more to support than it earns. Fewer hunters are participating, and commercial sealing appears to be in steady decline.
But until Canada’s commercial seal hunt ends forever, we will fight against it: documenting its cruelty, presenting our evidence to the authorities, researching, educating, lobbying for legislative change and working to shut down markets for seal products.