Supporting Canada’s Seal Hunt Makes No Economic Sense

A Canadian federal election is in full-swing, and the candidates and the party leaders are on full parade making election promises, most of which will undoubtedly not be kept. A lot of the messaging is focused on investing and spending tax dollars wisely.

All Canadians, especially in these tough economic times, want their taxes to go to things that have value and that give back to our country and our communities. That’s why when political candidates who claim to be fiscally responsible  say they support the commercial seal hunt, I shake my head..

Let’s take a look at the numbers[1]:

Number of commercial sealing licenses 6,000
Sealers who participated in 2010 commercial seal hunt 390
Number of companies who process seals 4
Number of companies who purchased pelts in 2010 1
Amount sealers earned per seal pelt in 2010 $18
Landed value of seal pelts in 2010 $1.2 million
Landed value of “other” products inc. meat and oil in 2010 $60,000
Export value of seal products in 2010 $2.1 million
Department of Fisheries and Oceans hunt monitoring cost in 2010 [2] $1 million
Estimated 2010 cost of government support for seal hunt $2.3 million
Cost to fight the EU ban on seal products at the WTO[3] $10 million
Cost to tourism, other trade areas (such as impact of seafood boycotts) and damage to Canada’s reputation $$$$$$???

Given these numbers, one might expect our fiscally-concerned leaders to acknowledge the lunacy of spending some $2.3 million on an industry that brings in half that amount and benefits fewer than 400 individuals. Or maybe they would be arguing for a better use of these funds, such as phasing-out the commercial seal hunt and buying back licenses or otherwise helping sealers and their communities.

But instead, Canadian politicians  are foolishly competing with each other to show who can show MORE support for the unnecessary, economically wasteful slaughter of seal pups!

When fewer individuals are participating in the hunt each year, markets for seal products are disappearing, and the lack of ice due to climate change will make it impossible  for anyone to rely on this industry in the future, it is absolutely mind-boggling that more MPs aren’t speaking out to end the commercial hunt and transition sealers into viable industries. Seals, sealers and Canadian taxpayers can only stand to benefit in a win-win-win situation.

It’s not as though markets for seal products are expected to increase any time soon. The EU and USA have closed their doors to seal products, and Canada’s recent attempts to market seal products in China are being met with a growing public outcry as well.

If you’re a Canadian voter, please present your candidates with the numbers and ask them where they stand.  Ask them why Canada’s political leaders continue to waste your precious tax dollars on propping up this dying industry with no future.

For more information on the campaign visit our website and follow us on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook or to take action to protect seals you can visit IFAW’s action centre.


[1] Unless otherwise indicated, source is DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans’) 2011-2015 Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for Atlantic Seals

[2] Estimate based on information received through Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP).

[3] Estimate based on McCarthy Tétrault trade lawyer Simon Potter, published in the Globe and Mail, 28 July 2009.

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