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March 22, 2012

HSI/UK Condemns Canada For Setting 400,000 Seal Slaughter Quota Despite Cruelty and Climate Change Threats

Humane Society International/United Kingdom

  • Reckless seal hunt quota set for 2012. Katie Carrus/HSI

London—Humane Society International/UK condemns the reckless 2012 commercial seal hunt quota set by the Canadian Government which permits the slaughter of 400,000 harp seals. The irresponsible quota comes as poor ice conditions and high mortality rates threaten harp seal populations off Canada’s east coast.

Mark Jones, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said:

“Given the devastating impacts of climate change on the ice-dependent seals, a responsible government would take immediate action to protect seal populations by introducing a federal sealing industry buyout, instead of encouraging the pointless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of defenceless seal pups.”

Just weeks ago, a leading Canadian government scientist publicly called for a reduction in the harp seal quota of at least 100,000 to address the impacts of climate change on seal populations in recent years [1]. It is predicted that, by the time the sealing seasons open in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and northeast of Newfoundland respectively, there will be little sea ice remaining in these regions [2].

Last year, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Belarus prohibited the import and export of fur from harp seals, the primary targets of Canada’s commercial seal slaughter. The European Union and the United States– Canada’s two largest trading partners – have also ended their trade in seal products.

Global markets for seal products are closing fast and Canada increasingly stands alone in its promotion of the seal slaughter. HSI 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 public money in developing 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 of age.
  • Veterinary reports consistently reveal high levels of animal suffering in commercial sealing, and veterinary experts have suggested that Canada’s commercial slaughter is inherently inhumane.
  • Canadian sealers are commercial fishermen who, on average, earn less than 5 percent of their annual income from killing seals – the remainder comes from seafood such as crab, shrimp and lobster.
  • Nearly 6,000 establishments, and more than 750,000 people, have joined a global boycott of Canadian seafood products that will continue until the seal slaughter ends. The boycott has already cost the Canadian economy many times the value of the commerce in seal products.
  • National polling consistently shows the overwhelming majority of Canadians want the commercial seal slaughter to end, and oppose the Canadian government’s use of tax dollars to promote the sealing industry.
  • Polling shows half of Newfoundland sealers and the majority of Newfoundlanders who expressed an opinion about the hunt support a federal sealing industry buyout (Ipsos Reid 2010).


Media Contact: Wendy Higgins, +44(0)7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org

Editor’s Notes:

High resolution photos and video of seals are availalbe on request.

1. CBC News report, Scientist wants 25% reduction in harp seal quota

2. Environment Canada, Seasonal Outlook for the Gulf of St Lawrence and East Newfoundland Waters - Winter 2011-2012

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Humane Society International/UK and its partner organisations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organisations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands-on programmes. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—on the Web at hsiuk.org.

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