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December 19, 2011

HSI Canada Calls for Canadian Sealing Industry Buyout Following Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Belarus Seal Fur Ban

Humane Society International/Canada

  • HSI Canada commends nations that prohibit import/export of fur from harp seals. Milani/HSI

MONTREAL – Humane Society International/Canada commends the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Belarus for prohibiting further import and export of fur from harp seals, the primary targets of Canada’s commercial seal hunt. The trade ban followed a decision in 2009 by Russian President Vladimir Putin to end Russia’s commercial seal hunt for animal welfare reasons.

Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada stated:

Global markets for seal products are closing fast and Canada increasingly stands alone in its promotion of the seal hunt. The world is clearly moving beyond commercial sealing and it is time Canada did the same.

Canada’s two largest trading partners – the United States and the European Union – have ended their trade in seal products. More than 60 animal protection groups are working in China to achieve similar legislation and the government of Taiwan last year announced its intention to ban seal product trade. With Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus ending their trade in harp seal fur, there are few places left in the world for the Canadian sealing industry to sell its products.

Political rhetoric and empty public relations stunts do nothing to help sealers and their communities. What is needed is leadership, and we are calling on Stephen Harper to truly support sealers by implementing a one-time federal sealing industry buyout. This plan would involve the federal government ending the commercial seal hunt, compensating sealers for any lost income and investing in sustainable economic alternatives. Such an initiative would cost Canadian taxpayers far less than the massive subsidies required to continue the seal hunt.

There is already broad support for a sealing industry buyout within the sealing community. If the sealers are now willing to consider a new way forward, the Canadian government should embrace the opportunity to do as the overwhelming majority of Canadians want and end the commercial seal hunt.”


  • With more than two million seals killed within the past decade alone, Canada’s commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on earth.
  • Government landings reports confirm that 98 percent of the seals killed in Canada over the past five years have been less than three months old.
  • The seals are killed primarily for their fur and seal carcasses are normally left to rot on the ice or in the water.
  • In 2006, Mexico and Croatia prohibited their trade in seal products.
  • In 2009, the 27-nation European Union ended its trade in products of commercial seal hunt.
  • In 2009, Russia effectively ended its commercial seal hunt, with then President Vladimir Putin describing sealing as a “bloody business.”
  • In 2010, Taiwan announced its intentions to prohibit seal product trade.
  • Polling shows half of Newfoundland sealers holding an opinion support a federal sealing industry buyout (Ipsos Reid 2010).
  • Polling shows the majority of Newfoundlanders holding an opinion support a federal sealing industry buyout, if that is what sealers want (Ipsos Reid 2011).
  • Polling shows 72 percent of Newfoundlanders support a prohibition on killing seal pups less than three months old, a measure that would effectively end Canada’s commercial seal hunt (Ipsos Reid 2011).
  • Climate change provides another incentive to end the commercial seal hunt, with the sea ice cover harp seals rely on to give birth to and nurse their pups decreasing dramatically of Canada’s east coast in recent years.
  • Environment Canada’s sea ice forecast published in December 2011 predicts virtually no sea ice cover in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at the end of March, 2012 (when the commercial seal hunt would open in that region) and almost no sea ice in the Front (waters northeast of Newfoundland) by mid-April, 2012 (when the seal hunt would open in that region).


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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International, one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than 11 million members and constituents globally. On the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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