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April 5, 2012

HSI/Canada Condemns Massive Newfoundland Government Subsidy to Sealing Company to Stockpile Skins

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Pointless slaughter. Marcus Gyger

MONTREAL—In a shameful move, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador has announced $3.6 million in government financing for Carino Company Ltd., a Norwegian-owned seal fur processor located in Newfoundland. The move follows the announcement last week by NuTan, Canada’s largest seal fur buyer, that the operation would shift its business away from seal products because of a lack of markets.

“The sealing industry has been quite vocal in recent weeks that global markets for seal products have closed and hundreds of thousands of seal furs remain in inventory,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “This irresponsible subsidy condemns countless baby seals to death this year and turns the sealing industry into a glorified welfare program. Global markets for seal products are not returning, and climate change will ultimately cause the sea ice, and the seals on it, to recede north, beyond the range of the commercial sealing industry. This government financing comes at the expense of countless legitimate businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador that are being denied funding for projects even as a company with no apparent business plan receives millions of taxpayer dollars.”

Canada’s two largest trading partners, the United States and the European Union, have prohibited their trade in all products of commercial seal hunts. In 2011, the Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan prohibited their trade in harp seal fur, the primary market of Canada’s commercial seal hunt. Despite multiple trade missions by Canadian government and sealing industry representatives, China has not emerged as a major market for seal products. In January 2012, Tamasu representative, Paul Boudreau, stated that there are 400,000 seal skins in inventory on the global market.

Facts:

  • Through the 1980s and 1990s, about $30 million was provided in government subsidies, including grants and soft loans, to the Canadian sealing industry. More than $4 million of that was provided in government support to facilitate the purchase of seal meat. Ken Jones, a senior official with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, testified about that subsidy program in 2006 in Canada’s House of Commons and stated, “We were propping up markets that didn't exist.”
  • Despite the government investment, the sealing industry continues to exist at taxpayers’ expense, and against the will of the overwhelming majority of Canadians.
  • At its height, the sealing industry amounted to about 3 percent of the landed value of Newfoundland’s fishing industry. In recent years, the landed value of the seal hunt has been in the region of $1 million annually, with only a few hundred fishermen participating in the slaughter.
  • 2010 polling revealed half of Newfoundland sealers with an opinion support a sealing industry buyout—a plan in which sealers would receive immediate compensation as the hunt is ended, and funds would be invested in economic alternatives in the communities involved.

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

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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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