Canada’s commercial seal slaughter opens despite no quota and no demand – Government of Newfoundland and Labrador paid $3.6 million in taxpayer subsidiesPosted by Jim at Wednesday, April 10, 2013
TORONTO, ONTARIO (IFAW) – Canada's commercial seal hunt opens off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador today, despite a lack of demand for seal products and restrictions on seal products in 34 countries. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) questions why the Canadian government insists on wasting millions of tax dollars supporting an industry that is clearly obsolete.
"For the second year in a row the commercial seal hunt has required a financial bailout from the Newfoundland government. The reality is that over 15 years of government subsidies, resulting in the waste of tens of millions of dollars, have failed to create a viable sealing industry. This is not some short-term marketing challenge; the fact is that in the 21st century, seal products are unnecessary and, increasingly, unwanted" said Sheryl Fink, Director of IFAW's Seal Campaign.
In 2012, the landed value of the commercial seal hunt was $1.6 million CAD, yet required $2 million in government support in order to proceed. A $3.6 million loan was granted to the sealing industry yet again this year in the face of deep cuts to other industries in Newfoundland and Labrador, including $4 million from tourism and 1200 government jobs.
Although the hunt is opening in the absence of an allowable catch or quota, market demand for seal products remains poor and there may be little interest in this year's hunt from sealers. Although the sealing industry claims there is demand for up to 100,000 seal pelts this year, the price being offered to sealers is expected to only be about $25 per skin. According to observer reports, only 26 boats hailed out on opening day.
"For a government to prioritize financial support to a poorly-paying, increasingly obsolete industry while cutting thousands of jobs in other important areas, just doesn't make economic sense" said Fink. "If the funds currently being used in a futile attempt to keep this dying industry alive were redirected to provide financial alternatives to help sealers to get out of the sealing business, it would be a far better use of taxpayers' dollars" concluded Fink.
- Number of commercial sealing licenses: 14,000
- Number of sealers who participated in 2012
commercial seal hunt: 763
- Number of companies who process seals in
- Landed value of seal pelts, meat and oil in 2012: $1.63 million
- Annual cost for Department of Fisheries and
Oceans to monitor the hunt(ii): $1 million
- Cost to fight the EU ban on seal products at
the WTO(iii): $10 million
- Cost to tourism, other trade areas and
Canada's reputation: Unknown, but likely significant
(i)Unless otherwise indicated, source is Department of Fisheries and Oceans' 2011-2015 Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for Atlantic Seals
(ii)Estimate based on information received through Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP).
(iii)Estimate based on McCarthy Tetrault trade lawyer Simon Potter, published in the Globe and Mail, 28 July 2009.
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.
ST. ANTHONY, Newfoundland (HSI) – Humane Society International/Canada is on location to document cruelty at Canada’s commercial seal hunt, which opened in the "Front" (the waters northeast of Newfoundland) half an hour before sunrise on Tuesday, April 9. Fifteen sealing vessels have hailed out to participate in the slaughter in the Front, eight for the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and three boats for an unknown destination.
“This is my 15th year observing the seal slaughter and we are filming the same kind of cruelty we always do. Baby seals are being shot in the face and crying out in agony, wounded seals are being allowed to escape into the water to die slowly, and helpless wounded pups are being beaten to death,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of HSI/Canada. “The Canadian government wants the world to believe everything has changed, but the seals are suffering as much as always.”
Last month, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador provided $3.6 million in financing so that sealers could be paid to kill seals despite a lack of global markets for seal products. Fisheries Minister Kieth Ashfield has not yet announced the Total Allowable Catch for seals in 2013.
Earlier this year, Taiwan passed a historic ban on the trade in marine mammal products, including Canadian seal products. The European Union, Russia, the United States and other nations have also implemented prohibitions on the trade in seal products.
With global markets for seal products closing fast, HSI/Canada calls on the Canadian and provincial governments to support a federal buyout of the commercial sealing industry, which would involve ending the seal hunt, providing immediate compensation for sealers, and investing in economic alternatives in the communities involved.
Broadcast-quality video and stills of the 2013 commercial seal slaughter will be available.
- National polling consistently shows the overwhelming majority of Canadians want the commercial seal slaughter to end, and oppose the Canadian government's using tax dollars to promote the sealing industry.
- 2010 Ipsos Reid polling shows that 50 percent of Newfoundland sealers holding an opinion support a federal sealing industry buyout, a plan in which sealers would be compensated for their licenses and funds invested in economic alternatives in the communities involved.
- Harp seals are the primary target of the east coast commercial seal hunt.
- As ice-dependent animals, seals rely on the sea ice to give birth to and nurse their pups. In recent years, sea ice cover has declined significantly off Canada’s east coast, and very high seal pup mortality has been recorded in key seal whelping areas.
- Government landings reports confirm that more than 98 percent of seals killed in Canada’s annual slaughter are less than three months old.
- Veterinary reports consistently reveal high levels of animal suffering in commercial sealing, and a 2013 veterinary study concluded bans on seal product trade are justified on ethical grounds.
- A leading Canadian government scientist has publicly called for a reduction in the harp seal quota of at least 100,000 to address the impacts of climate change on ice-dependent harp seals in recent years.
- Independent scientists warn that reckless kill levels authorized by the Canadian government, paired with the impacts of climate change on the ice dependent harp seals, poses a serious ecological threat to the survival of harp seal populations.
- Sealers are commercial fishermen who, on average, earn less than five percent of their annual incomes from sealing; the remainder comes from seafood such as crab, shrimp and lobster.
Media Contact: Dean Pogas, HSI/Canada: 514.261.6007/514.395.2914; email@example.com
Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, with active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation, farm animal welfare and animals in research. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International which, together with its partners, constitutes one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsicanada.ca