Canada Is About to Waste Serious Money on Seal Hunts

Newfoundland and Labrador will be wasting some serious cash to fund a pro-sealing campaign just in time for an appeal of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) decision to uphold the European Union’s (EU) ban on seal products.

In 2010, the EU enacted a ban on seal products, including fur, meat and blubber, with exceptions for Inuit and other indigenous communities and for products that were derived for non-commercial purposes as a result of managing marine resources.

In November, the WTO ruled to uphold the EU’s ban, citing “public moral concerns” over the welfare of seals. The cruelty that is inherent in this industry has been a well documented source of global outrage. The ruling was a huge victory, but not just for seals. As the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) pointed out at the time the WTO’s recognition of our right to oppose and reject products that we believe are cruel and unsustainable was a victory in and of itself.

Canada, which relies on exports to keep the hunts going, didn’t really see it that way. Both Canada and Norway formally appealed the WTO’s ruling, maintaining that these hunts are humane and well regulated. Even with pelt prices dropping and a global market that’s disappearing with product bans already in place in the U.S., Mexico, Russia and Taiwan, the government continues to try to support the brutal slaughter of thousands of baby seals every year.

Now, Newfoundland and Labrador will be spending more money to fund an awareness campaign that is supposed to dispel myths being spread about the industry. Fisheries Minister Keith Hutchings said the province will give $60,000 to the Seals and Sealing Network, a pro-hunting group that will lead the campaign.

“We want to be out in front again during that period to communicate as we’ve done in the past that it is a humane hunt,” Hutchings told the CBC. “It’s an industry, we believe, that can grow.”

To animal advocates, it’s pretty clear that there won’t be any growth here and that this is a dying industry. Unfortunately, instead of admitting it or moving to help commercial fishermen transition into other jobs, the government continues to waste millions of taxpayer dollars trying to prop it up.

When it comes to the myths that are allegedly being spread around about seal hunting, animal advocates are turning the tables on supporters for being the ones who are misinforming the public.

“The only misinformation that I tend to see in the seal campaign comes from the commercial sealing industry and the government representatives that defend it,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International-Canada.

Seal advocates have also raised concerns about how mass slaughter will affect seal populations in the future. Even though they’re not considered to be in danger now, climate change could have a big impact on their future chances of survival because they rely so heavily on ice.

The commercial hunt off Newfoundland last spring took an estimated 91,000 harp seals and now animal advocates are concerned that thousands more will be senselessly killed for products no one wants before the WTO has a chance to rule on the appeal, with hearings expected to start mid-March. Hopefully, the WTO will uphold the ban again.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Mark Donner
Mark Donner2 years ago

Dale O. your kicking back against Canadians being blamed for what their government does is a ridiculous red herring. the "government" only exists because of the collective irresponsibility of the people. Sometimes it takes only one voice to start rebellion and change. If you're too busy hiding in the closet and worshipping criminal ministers while the Harper tyrannical government threatens Canada and the world, you are partly to blame. Civil rebellion is in fact the only answer to the criminal tyrants who are running Canada.

Dale O.

Simon T, there is also the issue of massive overfishing by foreign trawlers. These are immense floating factory fish farms that inhale the ocean's fish like a giant prehistoric mega powered vacuum cleaner. If they do not cease and desist, there will not be any fish left for the ocean's residents, including seals and other aquatic wildlife that require fish to survive, let alone for people to eat.

You said: "I am not sure that anybody has suggested that all Canadians are bloodthirsty barbarians, just some."

True, there have been 'some,' but there are numerous such comments of this type that are totally out of order. It is one thing to condemn the seal hunt and demand that the Canadian government cease and desist by legislating an end to the commercial seal hunt while finding alternative employment for the seal hunters. It is quite another thing when some go out of their way to label all Canadians as 'bloodthirsty barbarians, sub-humans' and other vitriolic stereotypical stigmatizing snarks. So, yes, there will be some who will strongly object to such labels and it doesn't mean that they all condone the seal hunt but they will speak out against such labels.

Dale O.

Accusing some people that speak up for average Canadians (while the same people are opposed to the seal hunt itself) of 'blind nationalism' is unfair, since Canadians tend to be rather lousy nationalists to begin with. Most generally flunk out at 'Petty Nationalism 101'. When you state that: "I am glad I don't have that sort of nationalistic fervour and can accept that our government, all governments and some, not all of our people are callous exploiters of wildlife who think they have a right to slaughter other species for no good reason."

I am sure that many Canadians feel the same way but when people see continual stereotypes being endlessly hurled against an entire population, some people will refute it. Since most Canadians oppose the seal hunt, this has been true for years on end. No matter how much we have protested and continue to protest for years on end, every federal government has ignored the call of the majority demanding the end of the seal hunt for commercial purposes.

Dale O.

Simon T, there are almost 25 million Canadians. Out of a population of 25 million Canadians, there are only around 514,536 people residing in both Newfoundland and Labrador. Out of that fraction of our population: ..."there are approximately 12,500 licensed sealers in Newfoundland and Labrador. The number of active sealers participating in the harvest has been up to 3,000 in recent years."

So, out of a total population of close to some 25 million people there are 12,500 licensed sealers in Newfoundland and Labrador and out of that total number, there are around 3,000 or so that actively take part in the seal hunt in that province where 70 percent of the hunt occurs. So, yes, there are close to some 24 million or more other citizens who don't even hunt seals and get frustrated when the entire Canadian population is labelled by many outside the country as 'barbarians' for what 3,000 people at any given time does for part of their employment in that particular province.

Dale O.

For example, Tricia H, who will often bash anything about Canada everywhere and anywhere, comes out with wide sweeping generalizations about all Canadians. I don't object to those protesting the seal hunt. What I do object to are those who are so fervent in their opposition that they totally stereotype an entire country for something that most of us don't even agree with, let alone even take part in, aka the seal hunt. Yet, Tricia H and many others engage in pure hate mongering. For example, Care2 wrote an article about the rape and subsequent suicide of a teenager in Nova Scotia. She had been further victimized when photos of the rape where plastered on Facebook. Police did a rotten job regarding this case, resulting in national outrage. A 15-year-old California teen also committed suicide for similar reasons, which Care2 had also written about.

While commenting on the Care2 article about the tragic teenage suicide of the Canadian teen, (which had absolutely nothing to do with the seal hunt, this was the vitriolic comment that Tricia H had left:

Dale O.

Tricia H stated: "Shame on the people who treated her as a drinker and not as a rape victim. This is what Canada does. They kill these young seals and they killed her for the chain of damage that their country did. I am so glad that Canada isn't part of the U.S., that would make us responsible for this beautiful child's death. YOU SUCK CANADA!!" (9:16 am PDT on Apr 11, 2013)

Read more:

Some people feel such intensity and anger for their cause, that they will comment on a story about a tragic teenage suicide and turn it into a soapbox for their opposition to the seal hunt. The gross over generalization about: "This is what Canada does," coupled with the statement of: ..."and they killed her for the chain of damage that their country did," is certainly the type of comment that many Canadians find to be over the top.

Dale O.

These are the types of barbs that irk and annoy people and we don't have to be a clique of fire brand jingoistic knee jerk 'nationalists' to be annoyed at and defend ourselves against pure invective. A number of Americans commenting on that thread took issue with such comments, but that's an example of the type of vitriol that all Canadians are subjected to even though our government refuses to listen to the majority of Canadians that do oppose the seal hunt and end it. This happens with other nationalities, one member here with no visible profile who on almost every topic will refer to all Americans as 'sub human,' etc., even on issues about education. Maybe you are able to shrug off gratuitous insults, but a lot of people including Canadians will react, if it is over the top, that is simply human nature.

In this thread, Tricia H also stated: "I wish since the USA is sending money to every country on earth they will help these people find a better way to make money instead of killing everything they see;"...along with: "All Canada knows is to club seals, trap animals for fur and take the fins off of sharks. CAN ANY OTHER STATE OR COUNTRY GIVE THEM SOMETHING ELSE TO DO?"

Dale O.

The bulk of 'these people,' aka Canadians don't even hunt seals or trap fur, etc., Tricia H, nor do we even have seals living anywhere near most of us. We work in the same industries as do other citizens of western nations, so the totally inaccurate misrepresentation that all Canadians engage in the hunting of seals which is actually done by a tiny miniscule of the entire national population does show a total ignorance of what happens here.

Your plea for some sort of massive 'foreign aid' in a ~ We Are The World (for Ending the Seal Hunt) in Canada ~ to 'help us' fund new venues of employment is patently absurd. The U.S. doesn't give money to every nation on Earth and we give foreign aid to other countries, we don't receive it anymore than Americans do.