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May 13, 2013

Historic High Seal Hunt Quota Set as 2013 Seal Slaughter Draws to a Close

Sealers authorized to kill 408,200 seals, despite a lack of markets

Humane Society International/Canada

  • In the face of closing global markets for seal products, the DFO's decision defies both scientific advice and logic. Frank Loftus/HSUS

MONTREAL, Quebec — Humane Society International/Canada condemns the irresponsible 2013 seal hunt quota set by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which allows for the slaughter of 408,200 harp and hooded seals this year. Notably, the quota has only been released after nearly 90,000 seal pups have been killed and the seal slaughter is coming to a close.

“This year, we witnessed some of the worst sea ice conditions off our east coast in recent history. Instead of taking action to protect the seals, the Fisheries Minister has ignored the advice of government and independent scientists and put politics before conservation,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of HSI/Canada. “The world community is rejecting products of this cruel and outdated slaughter. The Canadian government should introduce a federal sealing industry buyout, rather than encouraging sealers to club and shoot hundreds of thousands of defenseless baby seals.”

Earlier this year, Taiwan passed a historic ban on the trade in marine mammal products, including Canadian seal products. The European Union, Russia, the United States and other nations have also implemented prohibitions on the trade in seal products.

The 2013 seal slaughter quota is among the highest set since the Canadian government introduced quota management in 1971. Today’s kill levels meet and exceed those of the 1950s and 1960s, when overhunting reduced the harp seal population by as much as two-thirds.

With global markets for seal products closing fast, Canada increasingly stands alone in its promotion of the seal slaughter. HSI/Canada calls on the Canadian government to support a federal buyout of the commercial sealing industry, which would compensate fishermen for lost income as the seal slaughter comes to an end and invest in development of economic alternatives in the communities involved.


  • 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, a plan in which sealers would be compensated for their licenses, and funds invested in economic alternatives in the communities involved.
  • Government landings reports confirm that more than 98 percent of seals killed in Canada’s annual slaughter are less than three months old. Veterinary reports consistently reveal high levels of animal suffering in commercial sealing, and a landmark veterinary study released in Oct. 2012 concluded bans on seal product trade are justified on ethical grounds.
  • 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.
  • Independent scientists warn that reckless kill levels authorized by the Canadian government, paired with the impacts of climate change on the ice dependent harp seals, poses a serious ecological threat to the survival of harp seal populations
  • 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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