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April 3, 2012

HSI/Canada Calls for Sealing Industry Buyout as Largest Seal Fur Processor Closes

Other seal fur buyers receive government financing to stockpile skins

Humane Society International/Canada

  • With the closing of the main global markets for Canadian seal products, the time has come to put an end to the commercial seal hunt. HSI/2011

MONTREAL – In the wake of closures of multiple major markets for seal products, Canada’s largest seal fur buyer, NuTan, announced Thursday it would stop processing seals, and shift its operations to other products. In a shameful move, government financing is apparently now being provided to at least one other seal fur processor to buy seal skins.

“The world community has spoken and the international trade in seal products has come to a close,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “It is very encouraging to see NuTan’s owners shifting operations to other business. However, it is shameful that the government is now apparently financing other operations to buy seal furs, despite the lack of existing or future markets. With hundreds of thousands of seal furs reportedly stockpiled on the global market, there is no economic justification for sealers to kill seals or these companies to buy their products. The government should invest public money in a fair buyout of the Canadian sealing industry instead of turning the seal hunt into a glorified welfare program.”

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, with local animal protection groups making it clear that China will not become a dumping ground for products the rest of the world has rejected. In January 2012, Tamasu representative Paul Boudreau stated that there are 400,000 seal skins in inventory on the global market. 


  • Through the 1980s and 1990s, about $30 million was provided in government subsidies to the Canadian sealing industry.
  • Millions of dollars of grants and interest free loans were provided to companies in the 1990s to develop, market and process seal products.
  • Despite the government investment, the sealing industry continues to exist at taxpayers’ expense, and against the will of the overwhelming majority of Canadians.
  • 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.

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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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