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April 12, 2012

Government-Sponsored Seal Hunt Begins off Newfoundland

The HSI Protect Seals team is on location to document the slaughter

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Senseless slaughter. Frank Loftus/The HSUS

ST. ANTHONY, Newfoundland—Humane Society International/Canada is on location to document the cruelty of Canada’s commercial seal hunt, which opened in the 'Front' (the waters northeast of Newfoundland), half an hour before sunrise on Thursday, April 12. Twenty seven sealing vessels have hailed out to participate so far, in addition to five boats that will be in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“Global markets for seal products have closed for good, so the Newfoundland government is financing this senseless slaughter," said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “In doing so, the government has turned the sealing industry into a glorified welfare program."

Last year, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, and Belarus prohibited the import and export of fur from harp seals, the primary targets of Canada’s commercial seal slaughter. The United States and the European Union—Canada’s two largest trading partners—have also ended their trade in seal products.

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 2012 commercial seal slaughter available.


  • Government landings reports confirm that more than 98 percent of seals killed in Canada’s annual slaughter are less than three months of age.
  • Veterinary reports consistently reveal high levels of animal suffering in commercial sealing, and leading veterinary experts have suggested in recent years that Canada’s commercial slaughter is inherently inhumane.
  • Sealers are commercial fishermen who, on average, earn less than 5 percent of their annual incomes from sealing killing seals – the remainder comes from seafood such as crab, shrimp and lobster.
  • Nearly 6,000 establishments, and more than 750,000 people, have joined a global boycott of Canadian seafood products that will continue until the seal slaughter ends. The boycott has already cost the Canadian economy many times the value of the seal slaughter.
  • National polling consistently shows the overwhelming majority of Canadians want the commercial seal slaughter to end, and oppose the Canadian government using tax dollars to promote the sealing industry.
  • Polling shows half of Newfoundland sealers and the majority of Newfoundlanders, holding an opinion, support a federal sealing industry buyout (Ipsos Reid 2010).

Media Contact: Dean Pogas: 514-261-6007/514-395-2914; dpogas@hsi.org


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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