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March 5, 2012

HSI/Canada Condemns Shameless Call by Sealing Industry Lobbyists for Massive Government Subsidy to Stockpile Seal Skins

400,000 seal skins reportedly already stockpiled on the world market

Humane Society International/Canada

  • End the slaughter now. HSI

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

“I suspect there are few sealers who would want the sealing industry to be known as a glorified welfare program. But that is exactly what it has become.

Few people want to buy seal fur, nations are banning the trade in seal products, but sealers and their allies in the Canadian government stubbornly keep paying for the killing to continue. If this seal hunt were left to sink or swim on its own in the free market, it would stop tomorrow.

A Canadian seal processor recently admitted there are hundreds of thousands of seal skins stockpiled [1]. Now, sealing industry lobbyists are calling on the government to subsidize more stockpiling. At a price that would cover the sealers’ costs, it would take many millions of dollars for the government to purchase these skins. What viable industries will be denied support if sealing lobbyists get their way?

The Canadian government shamefully provided $30 million taxpayers’ dollars in subsidies to the sealing industry in the 1980s and 1990s alone [2], and millions more have been spent in recent years [3]. In the late 1990s, our government paid sealers per pound of seal they killed. After the program ended, government officials confirmed products were destroyed at taxpayers’ expense and the subsidy had propped up “markets” that didn’t exist [4].

More subsidies won’t save the sealing industry—they will just continue to artificially sustain a sham industry. Instead of pouring more public money into the seal slaughter, the Canadian government should make a one-time investment in a fair sealing industry buyout. Such a plan would involve ending the seal hunt, providing immediate compensation to sealers, and developing viable economic alternatives in the communities involved.

Polling shows half of Newfoundland sealers with an opinion are already open to this plan and, with the industry openly admitting its markets are gone, it is time for the government to act.”


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 12 million members and constituents globally—On the Web at hsicanada.ca.

 1. Fauteux, H. (2011) Priorités de gestion de l'industrie du phoque. December 14. http://www.cfim.ca/accueil/-/pub/jSA4/content/1140517-priorites-de-gestion-de-l-industrie-du-phoque?_101_INSTANCE_jSA4_redirect=%2F

 2. Gallon, G. 2001. The Economics of the Canadian Sealing Industry. Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment. 37 pp + appendices.

 3. Livernois, J. “The Economics of Ending Canada's Commercial Harp Seal Hunt”, Marine Policy, 2010, Vol 34, No. 1: 42- 53.

 4. Jones, K. (Senior Fisheries Management Officer, Department of Fisheries and Oceans). 2006. 39th Parliament, 1st Session, evidence presented to Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, 15 June, 2006.