What if Canada opened a commercial seal hunt and no one came?

Poor ice and unusually warm weather may affect the 2012 commercial seal hunt in the Gulf of St Lawrence, many seals are thought to have perished and few hunters participated. c. IFAW/S. FinkToday is the opening day of the commercial seal hunt in the Gulf of St Lawrence, although one would be hard pressed to know it this year. 

The dramatic lack of ice in the Gulf in recent years, combined with a global lack of markets for seal products, makes us wonder if the days of commercial sealing in the Gulf may finally be coming to an end.

What a change today is from the opening of the Gulf hunt 2006!

That year hundreds of boats were lined up at the edge of the whelping patch, waiting for the season to open.  Today, in 2012, only five boats are expected to go out, and only two of those are rumored to be taking part in the commercial hunt.  

Yes, even though the hunt is a far cry from what it used to be, few seals remain in the Gulf, and markets have all but disappeared… there is still some hunting here today.  Although most of the Gulf is ice free, there is a small patch of ice off of the Magdalen Islands, where some 5,000-10,000 seal pups remain.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans ice floe map.

The seal pups are still very young. 

At about three weeks of age, they are known locally as “tanners”; so-called since not having fully moulted their white coat, they are considered  ’good’ only for leather and not fur.

Although an indefensible allowable catch of 400,000 seals has been set, so far only about 500 seals have been killed this year, shot and clubbed to death for their meat and skins.  And while we remain vigilant of the remaining hunt and concerned for the fate of these individuals, we are optimistic that the days of commercial sealing may be drawing to a close.   

For the Gulf at least, it appears as though climate change is killing this hunt. An activity that has not been economically viable for several years, is now largely not even commercially feasible because of deteriorating ice conditions.  For the government of Canada to continue to set indefensible, unsustainable kill quotas while continuing to promote and fund this dying industry is unacceptable. 

The time has come to end commercial sealing in this country for good. 

-- SF

Please take action and ask the Government of Canada to protect seals from the devastating effects of climate change and end the commercial seal hunt. 

Comments: 25

6 years ago

I think what Sheryl does to try to stop this is admirable, but what would really be amazing is if IFAW, HSI, HSUS, PETA all got together and worked to end this hunt, the odds are it would stop. That would be some amazing power.

6 years ago

Thanks to those who worked so hard to fight for these animals...and maybe the days of the horrific blood bathe is over..Amen

6 years ago

Dit bloedbad mag of beter "moet" al lang eens gestopt worden , liever vandaag dan morgen !!

6 years ago

Discusting, heart-breaking and totally unnessesary! No one wnats to wear the skins.fur of dead baby seals anymore. Hunters are not making any money, Europe is no longer buying the seal skins, so what's the point? Why can;t the canadian gov't deal with the reality that it's a dead-end indusrty and cancel the damn hunt. Many Baby seals are drowing due to lack of ice becasue they cannot swim.

Hello, people in the Canadian gov't ...time to admit defeat and cancel the Seal Hunt forever!

6 years ago

This seal hunting is barbaric. Always has been, and always will be. It needs to be stopped. I can't even imagine what type of individual it takes to walk up to a baby seal and shoot it, or club it.

However, there are a couple of seals I would mind seeing clubbed, but Seal is their last name! LOL

6 years ago

Should we be happy because seal hunt is coming to an end or cry because all the ice has disappeared?

6 years ago

Heartening news, but still too many!

6 years ago

Good on You Sheryl for your tireless work everyone must help you STOP the carnage,its unchristian and its immoral.

6 years ago

What is the Canadian government trying to prove, and to whom? There is no justification for the seal hunt at all, from any way you look at it. There are only sound and compelling reasons why it should have been stopped a long time ago.

6 years ago

Stop killing Seals!!!

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