WATCH: Canada’s commercial seal hunt: Separating myth from fact

The East Coast commercial seal hunt has started up in Canada for another year, and once again we are hearing the same myths from both the sealing industry and from politicians.

With so much misinformation out there, it is easy to get confused.

Let’s separate the myths from the facts.

Myth #1: Only adult seals are hunted, and seal pups are protected.

TRUTH: In reality, only whitecoat seal pups under two weeks of age are protected. According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 98% of the seals killed in the commercial hunt are harp seal pups from 3 weeks to 3 months of age.

Myth #2: None of the meat is wasted; all of the seal is used.

TRUTH: Even after decades of government subsidies and attempts to create a market for seal meat, some 92 percent of seal meat from the commercial harp seal hunt is still wasted.

Myth #3: Seals are eating too much cod, slowing the recovery of the fishery

TRUTH: Scientists with the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans say harp seals have very little impact on cod recovery. They point out that cod are now recovering, even in the presence of relatively high harp seal populations. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that killing seals would help cod stocks to recover and, in fact, could slow recovery or cause declines in other species.

Myth #4: Sealing is a big part of sealers’ annual incomes.

TRUTH: Sealing is an industry in decline. Exports of seal products dropped from $18 million (CAD) in 2006 to just $317,000 (CAD) in 2015. According to Fisheries and Oceans, there were 1,318 active sealers in 2014, with an average earning of $1523 CAD (before accounting for costs) from the seal hunt.

Myth #5: It is illegal to club seals.

TRUTH: Hakapiks and clubs are still legally used to beat seals in the East coast commercial hunt. Guns are also used. Neither method has proven to be humane in the unpredictable and competitive conditions under which the hunt is conducted.

Myth #6: All seal hunting is the same, whether it's done on the East Coast or in the Arctic.

TRUTH: Seal hunting in the Arctic is very different from the East coast commercial hunt. The entire animal is used, and Inuit communities rely on seals for food and for income.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has fought for more than 45 years to bring an end to the cruel and unnecessary commercial seal hunt on the Canadian East Coast, and we will continue until it has ended. With your help, we have made tremendous progress: With world markets closing their doors to seal products, this is clearly an industry in decline. But the government of Canada continues to financially support the hunt, propping up an economically unviable industry that should be relegated to the books of history. Please take action and tell Prime Minister Justin Trudeau it is time to end the commercial seal hunt, for good.


Post a comment


Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy