Canadian Commercial Seal Hunt to Open April 10th

Canadian Commercial Seal Hunt to Open April 10th
Tuesday, 5 April, 2016
Toronto, Ontario

Canada’s commercial seal hunt will open once again on the East Coast on April 10th. The Canadian government has not announced the 2016 quota, but it will likely remain at 400,000 harp seals, 60,000 grey seals and 8,200 hooded seals. However, the commercial seal hunt is expected to kill only a fraction of this number.

The commercial seal hunt is at its lowest point in history. Only a few hundred sealers participate each year, since the value of seal pelts has plummeted thanks in large part to the 2009 EU ban on the import of seal products. Sealers received an average of only $31 per pelt in 2015.

Thirty-five countries have banned seal products. With few international markets, the seal hunt actually costs more in tax dollars than it brings into the economy. The cost of monitoring the hunt alone is over twice its value. In addition, the governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador have funneled hundreds of millions into subsidies for the hunt. For the last twenty years, government, industry and lobby groups have tried to develop new seal products — everything from paint to pepperoni. But all of these attempts to revitalize this industry have failed.

The commercial seal hunt is a part-time activity that provides employment for only a few weeks a year. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is calling on the Government of Canada to implement a seal license buyout and put in place a real plan to help Atlantic Canadian communities.

Quotes from Sheryl Fink, Director of Canadian Wildlife Campaigns:

“Seal pups continue to suffer at the hands of hunters as they are clubbed and shot to death for their fur. The products made from the commercial hunt are completely unnecessary. Thanks to the EU ban on seal products, the brutal seal slaughter is no longer economically viable. It is time for Canada to end the hunt for good.” 

“Canada’s commercial seal hunt is a terrible waste. Unlike any other hunt in Canada, sealers are allowed to waste the meat after they’ve taken only the skin.”

“Hundreds of millions of tax dollars have been spent to support this dying industry since the 1990s — but that hasn’t stopped the world from turning their backs on seal products. Now 35 countries have a ban on commercial seal products in place, with China now considering one as well. It’s 2015; Canada can do better for Atlantic communities than forcing them to rely on an industry that has so few future prospects.”


Key Facts:

  • The Canadian government set the 2015 quota at 400,000 harp seals, 60,000 grey seals and 8,200 hooded seals. The 2016 quota is likely to remain the same.
  • Sealing is part-time, seasonal activity that is done only for a few days or weeks of each year. The small portion of a sealer’s income that sealing provides could be compensated with a license buyout or other means.
  • Global opposition to the commercial seal hunt is high and growing. There are 34 countries which now ban the trade in seal products, including Armenia, the 28 Member States of the EU, Russia (which reportedly represented approximately 90% of the export market for seal fur) Kazakhstan, Belarus, Mexico, and the USA — Canada’s closest trading partner.
  • Taiwan has also banned the trade in seal products.
  • An agreement between Canada and China to allow edible seal products to be exported to China has not been ratified, and there are reports of China considering banning seal products as well.
  • The commercial seal hunt has cost Canadian taxpayers more than it brings into the economy. By stopping the commercial seal hunt the Government of Canada would save approximately $7 million per year.
  • The number of sealers actively involved in the hunt has declined as they turn to other sources of income. In 2006 approximately 5,594 sealers took part in the hunt, in 2008 only 2,964 sealers took part, and in 2014 only 393 sealers took part.
  • The value of seal pelts has dropped dramatically, from a value of $105 in 2006, $31 in 2008 to just $27 in 2014.
  • The number of companies actively involved in the sealing industry has declined dramatically, from approximately 14 in the 90s to only two processors active in 2015.
  • In 2009, Canada and Norway launched a challenge of the EU restrictions on the sale of seal products at the World Trade Organization. IFAW assisted the European Commission with its case in defense of the restrictions.
  • In 2014, the World Trade Organization ruled that the European Union’s restrictions on the sale of seal products were, in principle, acceptable under international trade rules.
  • Canada’s commercial seal hunt and Inuit sealing are very different. They involve different people, different species of seal and occur in different regions of the country. Inuit seal hunting is primarily for meat, commercial sealing is for fur.
  • IFAW does not oppose seal hunting by aboriginal peoples for subsistence use. Nor does IFAW oppose the Atlantic Canadian “personal use” hunt, which allows fishermen to kill up to 6 seals for non-commercial use.


About IFAW

IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) was established in 1969 and its founding campaign was in opposition to Canada’s commercial seal hunt. IFAW has more than 40 years of experience raising awareness, documenting and opposing the cruel commercial hunts for seals in Canada and around the world.

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Press Contact

Res Krebs, IFAW Canada
Contact phone:
+1 416 669 3459
Contact email:
Sonja Van Tichelen, IFAW EU
Contact phone:
+32 2 282 06 94
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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