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

It is an impossible situation. On one hand you have to maintain the economic vialibility of the fishing industry and on the other there is the very important moral of animal rights. I am sure there are ways we could find alternative methods. The area under question is primarily an animal sanctuary and should remain that. Over 70 percent of world oceans are not used and governments could encourage commercial ventures in those areas.

There is always a way!

6 years ago

This is ridiculous! Yea let's stop killing seals so that they're population gets out of control and the cod stocks diminish even more than they are now! I hope everyone who wants the sealing industry to be shut down are all vegetarians or you better know for sure where every piece of meat that lands on your plate comes from. Hypocrits.

6 years ago

Keep going. You are doing great work. I am humbled by how much you have accomplished. These have to be broken, damaged, emotionally debilitated (or stoned or drunk) people to bring themselves to go out and do what is seen in these videos.Hopefully they will all die out soon, not to be replaced.

6 years ago

Keep up the good work and together we can stop this cruelty.

6 years ago

Animals have feelings too..

6 years ago

Who is going to tell me what is the difference between killing Seals and Lambs?
Oh.. Taste of Lamb is delicious!!... I gotcha...

6 years ago

Doubt you'll post this because I am a former sealer. You know nothing about the sealing industry and those posting in her know nothing either. You should become educated on the sealing industry and stop using it as a financial campaign. 

6 years ago

thank for posting this because it is important for everyone to see

6 years ago

+i am so greatful that the seal hunt is going down++++++++++++

6 years ago

I am so proud of the work that Sheryl Flnk has done and all the other supporters of Animal Rights who work so hard to bring attention to the matter and awareness to the ignorant people who commit injustice and have no regard for the life of the animals and lack respect for their environment.....Thanks to people like you, changes are being made and people are slowly waking up to kindness and justice.
We need education, we need to grow up and quit these acts of barbarism..

Elahe Lalehzari

Post a comment


Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
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
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime