Canadians Loan €2.7 million to Norwegians to Buy Seal Products as Bans Begin to Bite
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) condemns the decision by the Canadian province of Newfoundland to provide €2.7 million in bailout money to a Norwegian company in order to stockpile seal pelts. The animal welfare group says that using Newfoundland tax dollars to keep the seal hunt on life support is wasteful and misguided.
“When a company cannot receive financing through traditional sources, it should be a clear warning that the seal hunt is a bad investment. The numbers alone show that this is an economically unviable, dying industry, and continuing to finance it simply does not make fiscal sense” said Sheryl Fink, Director of IFAW’s Seal Program, “Tens of millions of dollars have been poured into the sealing industry over the past two decades, with little to show for it. The sealing industry is at its lowest point in recent memory, bringing in less than C$1 million last year.”
Adrian Hiel, IFAW EU spokesperson, also questioned the decision to lend money to a Norwegian company. “According to the IMF Norway is the fourth richest country in the world. If a Norwegian company can’t get financing domestically it’s not for a lack of available funds, it’s because it doesn’t make any sense to invest in a dying industry – fortunately for the sealing industry Canadian taxpayers are ready to step into the breach.”
The landed value of the commercial seal hunt in the past three years adds up to only €2.24 million (C$2.9 million), and the numbers of sealers participating is dwindling annually, with only 225 participating in Canada in 2011, as many sealers move on to other opportunities.
IFAW says that this bailout is a short-term measure, and comes at a time when the sealing industry may have reached the point of no return. There are 33 countries which now ban the trade in seal products, most notably the 27 Member States of the EU, Russia (which reportedly represented approximately 90% of the export market for seal fur) and the USA (Canada’s closest trading partner). An agreement between Canada and China to allow edible seal products to be exported to China has not been ratified, and there are reports of China considering banning seal products as well.
“At a time when governments are talking about fiscal responsibility, it is astounding that governments in Canada continue to throw good money after bad at an industry that has no future.” said Fink, “Sealers need opportunities and support to get out of the industry and to end the seal hunt once and for all.”
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.