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April 22, 2015

Government Waste Persists with Pointless Commercial Seal Hunt Subsidies

Federal budget allocates $5.7 million to sealing industry to expand international markets

Humane Society International/Canada

  • An image from the 2015 commercial seal hunt off the coast of Newfoundland captured by HSI/Canada's HuntWatch team. Michael Bernard/HSI

The Harper government is providing millions of tax dollars in the 2015 federal budget "to help secure new market access for Canadian seal products," a move Humane Society International/Canada condemns. While the $5.7 million allocated is earmarked in part to certify by-products of the Inuit subsistence seal hunt, the money will also be used to "support efforts by the broader sealing industry to increase export market opportunities."

Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of HSI/Canada, issued the following statement:
“Humane Society International is pleased to see a federal investment in the certification of by-products from the Inuit subsistence seal hunt. However, we strongly oppose the Canadian government allocating tax dollars in a pointless attempt to secure international markets for non-aboriginal, commercial seal products.
“HSI has just returned from Newfoundland where we documented this year’s commercial seal slaughter. The gruesome images we filmed are yet more proof that this industry should be shut down, not kept alive on artificial life support.

“The commercial sealing industry has been a taxpayer funded make-work project for decades. Canada's top seal processor is warehousing a stockpile of baby seal skins no one wants, and the sole processor buying seal products is only able to do so with government financing.

“Instead of propping up this dead industry with scarce tax dollars, our government should invest in a buyout of the commercial sealing industry. This plan would involve ending the commercial seal hunt, compensating sealers, and investing in viable economic alternatives.

“Economists tell us a sealing industry buyout would cost Canadians less than the vast subsidies required to continue this brutal slaughter. It would certainly offer more hope for coastal communities than empty promises of future markets for the skins of clubbed and shot baby seals.”

Call for a federal buyout of Canada’s commercial sealing industry.


  • HSI Canada does not oppose subsistence seal hunting by Inuit people. We are campaigning to end the commercial slaughter of baby seals for their fur that occurs each year in Atlantic Canada.
  • To date 35 countries, including the United States, 28-nation European Union and Russia, maintain bans on trade in the primary products of commercial sealing.
  • The 2014 landed value of Canada's commercial seal hunt was just $1.5 million. Only a few hundred sealers participated in the slaughter, on a part-time basis.
  • In 2015, Canada’s largest seal fur buyer refused $1 million in provincial government financing to purchase seal products, noting the company is warehousing a stockpile of seal fur it has been unable to sell.
  • In the past four decades, the Canadian government has spent millions of tax dollars in failed efforts to secure and re-establish international markets for seal products.
  • The closure of global markets for commercial seal products has caused seal fur prices and sealers participation to plummet in Atlantic Canada in recent years. As a result, more than 1.8 million baby seals have been spared a horrible fate.

Media Contact: Christopher Paré, 514 395-2914 , cpare@hsi.org