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April 18, 2013

Nearly 60,000 Seals Killed Without Quota in Commercial Seal Hunt

HSI/Canada calls on Minister Ashfield to release the 2013 harp seal quota

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Slaughter without limits. Frank Loftus/The HSUS

MONTREAL, Quebec — Humane Society International/Canada condemns the failure of Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield to establish the 2013 seal hunt quota, even as the slaughter of tens of thousands of seals is proceeding off of Newfoundland’s coasts. More than 59,456 harp seals have been reported killed since the commercial seal slaughter opened on April 9.

“This year, we witnessed the worst sea ice conditions I have ever seen off Newfoundland, and it is clear there has been significant seal pup mortality as a result,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of HSI/Canada. “But instead of stopping the seal slaughter and protecting the surviving pups, the provincial and federal governments have actually subsidized the killing and allowed the slaughter to proceed in absence of any limits.”

It is standard practice for the Fisheries Minister to publish the Total Allowable Catch for seals prior to the opening of the commercial seal hunt. But despite repeated efforts by HSI to obtain the 2013 seal quota from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, no TAC has been released.

Global markets for seal products have closed, and there is little demand for seal fur as a result. However, $3.6 million in financing from the Newfoundland government is funding a Norwegian owned company to purchase seal furs this year to “purchase seal pelts and blubber” (stockpile seal skins).

HSI/Canada calls on the Canadian and provincial governments to redirect ongoing sealing industry subsidies to support a federal buyout of the commercial sealing industry. This plan would involve ending the commercial seal hunt, providing immediate compensation for sealers, and investing in economic alternatives in the communities involved.

Broadcast-quality video and stills of the 2013 commercial seal slaughter will be available.


  • National polling consistently shows most Canadians want the commercial seal slaughter to end, and oppose the Canadian government using tax dollars to promote the sealing industry.
  • 2010 Ipsos Reid polling shows that 50 percent of Newfoundland sealers holding an opinion support a federal sealing industry buyout.
  • Government landings reports confirm that more than 98 percent of seals killed in Canada’s annual slaughter are less than three months old.
  • The United States, European Union, Russia, Taiwan, Mexico, Croatia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have all prohibited trade in seal products.
  • A 2013 veterinary study found that commercial sealing causes unacceptable animal suffering and concluded that bans on seal product trade are justified.
  • A leading Canadian government scientist has publicly called for a reduction in the harp seal quota of at least 100,000 to address the impacts of climate change on ice-dependent harp seals in recent years.
  • Sealers are commercial fishermen who, on average, earn less than five percent of their annual incomes from sealing; the remainder comes from seafood such as crab, shrimp and lobster.


Media Contact: Dean Pogas, HSI/Canada: 514.261.6007/514.395.2914; dpogas@hsi.org

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, with active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation, farm animal welfare and animals in research. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International which, together with its partners, constitutes one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsicanada.ca

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