Norway axes commercial seal hunt subsidies – likely ending commercial seal hunting in Europe

Norway axes commercial seal hunt subsidies – likely ending commercial seal hunti
Friday, 12 December, 2014
Brussels, Belgium

According to media reports the Norwegian government has announced it will stop propping up an unnecessary commercial seal hunt industry with government handouts.

“This is brilliant news that will save thousands of seals from a cruel death. It seems clear that the conservative Norwegian government has realised that the bans on commercial seal products in 34 countries are not going away, rather, it is commercial sealing whose time has come,” said Sonja Van Tichelen,  EU Regional Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

AFP reports that a majority of lawmakers voted late Thursday to delete a 12-million-kroner (1.3-mi “This is also a tremendous success for the EU ban on commercial seal products. By closing our markets to cruelty Europeans can be proud of ending cruelty elsewhere,” continued Van Tichelen.

Norway, like Canada, has allocated subsidies to its sealing industry for years – providing support to an industry that is no longer necessary. With its long list of priorities to balance for its people, and only three boats taking place in the Norway seal hunt in 2014, it is no surprise – and rather prudent – that the Norwegian government is examining its economic priorities.

IFAW thinks this makes sense, and hopes that the Canadian government follows the lead of Norway. Canada has provided support to Canadian sealers for decades, but the kinds of support it has provided were clearly ineffective. It’s time to support sealers as they get out of the industry.

Key Facts:

  • Government subsidies have amounted to up to 80% of sealers’ revenue
  • Although the EU itself was a small market for seal products, the EU ban on the trade of products has global influence and it has resulted declines of global demand for seal products.
  • There are 33 countries which now ban the trade in seal products, the 28 Member States of the EU, Russia, Kazakhstan Belarus, Mexico, and the USA.
  • Over 98% of seals killed in commercial seal hunts are between 2 weeks and 3 months of age.
  • IFAW does not, and has never, campaigned against the Inuit hunt, or the personal hunt of seals FOR FOOD.
  • According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), climate change is already having a negative impact on harp, ringed, and hooded seals. These three species are ice-dependent seals, which means that changing ice conditions are expected to result in increased mortality and other threats.
  • The EU seal ban came into force on August 20, 2010 and applies to seal products of EU origin and to imported products.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available

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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Sheryl Fink, Campaign Director, Canadian Wildlife
Campaign Director, Canadian Wildlife
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations