IFAW: $3.6 million sealing industry bailout is a waste

Commercial seal hunt in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador © IFAW/S. Cook
Thursday, 5 April, 2012

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) condemns the Canadian government's decision to provide $3.6 million in bailout money to a Norwegian company to stockpile seal pelts. The animal welfare group says that using Newfoundland tax dollars to keep the seal hunt on life support is wasteful and misguided.

“When a company cannot receive financing through traditional sources, it should be a clear warning that the seal hunt is a bad investment," said Sheryl Fink, director of IFAW’s Seal Program. "The numbers alone show that this is an economically unviable, dying industry, and continuing to finance it simply does not make fiscal sense. Tens of millions of dollars have been poured into the sealing industry over the past two decades, with little to show for it. The sealing industry is at its lowest point in recent memory, bringing in less than $1 million last year.”

Fink also questioned the decision to use taxpayer dollars to bail out a Norwegian company:  “It’s also interesting that the Minister would provide millions in bailouts to Carino, a Norwegian company, in the very same week that NuTan Furs, a Canadian-owned company, announced that it was closing its seal tannery.” 

The landed value of the commercial seal hunt in the past three years adds up to only $2.9 million, and the numbers of sealers participating industry is dwindling annually, with only 225 participating in 2011, while many sealers move on to other opportunities.

IFAW says that this bailout is a short-term measure, and comes at a time when the sealing industry may have reached the point of no return. Thirty-three countries  now ban the trade in seal products, notably the 27 member states of the EU, Russia (which reportedly represented approximately 90 percent of the export market for seal fur) and the U.S. (Canada’s closest trading partner). 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.

“At a time when all levels of government are talking about fiscal responsibility, it is astounding that the Conservative Government continues to throw good money after bad at an industry that has no future,” Fink said. “What the government needs to do is provide sealers with opportunities to get out of the industry and to end the seal hunt once and for all.”

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.

For more information on the campaign read IFAW’s blog, visit our website and follow us on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

For further information or to schedule interviews with Sheryl Fink, Director of IFAW’s Seal Program, please contact:

Michelle Cliffe, IFAW Global Communications Lead, Seals
Telephone: +1 647 986 4329
E-mail: mcliffe@ifaw.org

Twitter: @MichelleCliffe or @IFAWCanada


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Press Contact

Michelle Cliffe, IFAW Global Communications Lead, Seals
Contact phone:
+1 647 986 4329
Contact email:


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