The Seal Hunt is an Obsolete Industry, and It’s Time We Ended It

Did the Department of Obsolete Industry stir a nostalgia for the fragrant smell of burning blubber? Were you hoping to be hired as a “fact enhancement officer” to help inflate the importance of the commercial seal hunt to the Canadian economy?

Well we apologize for getting your hopes up, because believe it or not, the Department of Obsolete Industry doesn’t exist. That’s right — in 2013, IFAW created this fictional ministry of the Government of Canada. You can check out our handy work over at

But just because the Department of Obsolete Industry is fictional, doesn’t mean the federal government hasn’t stopped throwing millions of Canadian tax dollars at an industry that has been failing for decades.

Since 1995, they’ve spent at least $35 million on hare-brained schemes to turn seal blubber into diesel fuel, seal meat into dog food, chicken food, and mink food, and — after those ideas bombed — now they’re going to try to market this meat to people outside Newfoundland. Every single one of these projects has failed miserably; once subsidies dry up, none of them are economically sound.

And in another thoughtless move to throw more Canadian tax dollars down the drain, the federal government spent millions fighting an international court case against the European Union, which has banned the import of seal products on animal welfare grounds. Of course, Canada lost that case — but, not surprisingly, last week Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced that they intend to spend millions more on an appeal.

Further, both the federal government and the government of Newfoundland are handing out further millions to Carino, the only remaining seal processor — and a foreign owned private corporation. Why exactly are our tax dollars propping up a Norwegian company?

Sealing is a historical practice that hasn’t managed to survive in modern times without continued government support. Here at IFAW we think that it’s time to stop funding this obsolete industry, and start using that money to support the few remaining sealers to transition away from it. And since over 70% of Newfoundlanders support this position, the real question is: why aren’t governments acting?[1]

Please support us in this effort, and email your MP today.

-- Sheryl Fink, Program Director, Seals - International Fund for Animal Welfare

[1] Based on 2012 Environics Survey of Atlantic Canadians attitudes to the commercial seal hunt.