Debate between pro-seal hunt rhetoric and solid science resumes in the Canadian Senate

Canadian Senator Mac Harb.Yesterday, the Honourable Mac Harb bravely addressed the Senate of Canada as debate resumed on his bill to end the seal hunt, Bill S-210.

We applaud Senator Harb’s unwavering commitment and courage in speaking out against the cruel and unnecessary seal hunt, a slaughter that a recent veterinary study called “inherently inhumane”.

Senator Harb is exposing the truth: markets for seal products are drying up, commercial sealing is a dying industry, and the Government of Canada has failed sealers and their communities by not providing compensation or alternatives.

He points to the ongoing waste of Canadians’ tax dollars in support of this industry, including a $3.6 million bailout to the sealing industry and the Canadian government’s challenge of the EU ban on seal products at the World Trade Organization.

The senator also made an impassioned plea for support of Inuit communities, saying the Canadian Government had failed them by not taking advantage of the exemption granted to Inuit and First Nations people by the EU seal ban.

He pointed to continued government mismanagement of fisheries, and the false arguments of those trying to blame seals and other predators for preventing the recovery of fish stocks.

Politicians need to stop wishing for – and encouraging a return to - the “good old days,” when lamps were lit with seal blubber, and men died tragically at the seal hunt. The world does not need or want seal products, and there is no need for this archaic practice of commercial sealing to continue.

As usual, Senator Harb’s colleagues were able to respond only with pro-seal hunt rhetoric, unsupported by facts.

Firstly, the usual accusation that any debate of the sealing question is based on emotion and not science (clearly the Honourable Senator making this claim has not read the numerous reports to the contrary!).

Next the “brilliant revelation” from Senator Patterson that seals are not vegetarians (yawn – didn’t we first hear that line over 20 years ago?), then the usual claim; seals eat fish and therefore “common sense” tells us they are having an impact on fish stock recovery. But scientists tell us that marine ecosystems are far more complicated than this, and that determining the impact of seal predation on fish stocks requires a more sophisticated analysis. In fact, the most recent science indicates that harp seals are not preventing cod stock recovery – neither through predation nor through competition for capelin.

The full text of Senator Harb’s speech is available online. 

An Environics poll commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare this June found that 69% of Canadians would support the passing of Senator Harb’s bill.  

Are you one of them?

Take Action and send a message to the Senate of Canada, letting them know you too support Senator Mac Harb’s bill, and help in his quest to make the seal hunt history.


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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Rikkert Reijnen, Programme Director Wildlife Crime, IFAW Netherlands
Programme Director Wildlife Crime, IFAW Netherlands
Sheryl Fink, Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Sonja Van Tichelen, Regional Director, European Union
Regional Director, European Union