IFAW: Canadian Commercial Seal Hunt Opens as EU ban debated at WTO

Monday, April 14, 2014
Brussels, Belgium

After over 30 years of trying to revive the commercial seal hunt, and over C$50 million (€33 million) in government support, the hunt will proceed again in 2014 despite the lack of markets. 


“This hunt has been on life support for 20 years. It will never come back to previous levels. When will governments in Ottawa and St. John’s start to think about the future, and help sealers transition out of this failed industry?” says Sheryl Fink, Wildlife Campaigns Director of IFAW Canada.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government continues to waste millions fighting an international trade dispute with the European Union — a dispute they lost in the first round, and have recently appealed.
According to Fink, “Europeans don’t want products from an inhumane, wasteful, and unnecessary industry. Why should we try to force them to take something they don’t want?”

The result of the final WTO appeal is expected on May 20th.

Key Facts:

  • Total Allowable Catch has been set at 400,000 for 2014; however, this number is purely political. As in recent years, the catch will not reach anywhere near this number.
  • Total catches in past years have been: 89,030 in 2013, 69,139 in 2012, 40,370 in 2011, and 69,101 in 2010.
  • The hunt is primarily for the pelt, with some blubber used. Based on numbers from 2011, 90% of the meat from the carcass is left on the ice. In 2013, the Canadian Government reported no meat being landed.
  • Opinion polling indicates that 71% of Canadians do not think the commercial seal hunt should receive any government funding.
  • Three quarters of Newfoundlanders support funding to help sealers transition, and half of sealers would stop sealing if they had some government support.
  • 1 in 5 Newfoundlanders oppose the seal hunt, and 71% think it makes sense to question it when it requires government funding to continue.
 

  • Carino, the only remaining seal pelt processor, has received over C$7 million (€4.6 million) in government loans over the past 2 years. It has now turned to private lending institutions for financing.
  • IFAW does not, and has never, campaigned against the Inuit hunt, or the personal hunt of seals for food in Newfoundland.
  • Despite the EU ban's exemption for seal products from indigenous hunts (in which the whole animal is used) the Canadian government has done nothing to provide Inuit with tools necessary to distinguish their product.

Greenland is able to sell pelts within the EU from their subsistence hunt because the government put a labeling system in place.

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Press Contact

Adrian Hiel, IFAW EU
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+32 473 86 34 61
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Andreas Krebs, IFAW Canada
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+416 669 34 59
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Experts

Dr. Ralf (Perry) Sonntag, Country Director, Germany
Country Director, Germany
Sheryl Fink, Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Sonja Van Tichelen, Regional Director, European Union
Regional Director, European Union