Stage one of Canada’s commercial seal hunt closes - more than 17,000 seals killed in just over two days

Wednesday, 25 March, 2009
Charlottetown, PEI, Canada

(Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada – 25 March, 2009) – The Canadian government closed stage one of its seal hunt today after sealers killed 17,200 seals in just over two days

Observers with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), who peacefully monitor the hunt each year, obtained further footage today showing seals suffering during the largest marine mammal slaughter in the world.

Sealers on Canada’s east coast hunted seals in the Magdalen Islands area after the annual commercial seal hunt opened on Monday. Stage two of the hunt will open on Friday on the nearby Maritime Islands. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for this year’s hunt is 280,000 harp seals.

Cheryl Jacobson, hunt observer with IFAW, said: “We witnessed today a classic example of the cruelty associated with this hunt. An injured, bleeding seal escaped into the water before a sealer could get to it. The sealer tried to pull the seal out by the hind flippers but it slipped underwater anyway.

“This wounded seal will most likely die underwater and unbelievably, that kill won’t even be counted in the official catch number.”

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “Today’s footage provides European policymakers with the cold hard facts about Canada’s commercial seal hunt – it’s unacceptably cruel. These seals, the overwhelming majority of which are pups under three months of age, are killed primarily to provide fur for fashion items which nobody needs.”

This year’s hunt takes place as the EU stands poised to introduce a ban on the trade in products from commercial seal hunts throughout its member states.

Recent economic evaluations have indicated that the market for seal fur is saturated, causing prices to drop by almost half. Processors report that sales of seal pelts all but stopped at the end of 2007, and in early 2009, still do not appear to have recovered.

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