Accomplishments for Seals

Every year, we get closer to ending Canada's cruel commercial seal hunt. See how far we've come.

Humane Society International

With the help of our hundreds of thousands of caring supporters, the HSI/HSUS Protect Seals campaign grows ever closer to ending Canada’s commercial seal slaughter forever. Some recent victories:

April 2018: India banned the import of seal fur and skins.

March 2017: Switzerland banned trade in commercial seal products.

October 2016: Canadian parliamentarians admitted that the export value of the commercial seal hunt has plummeted from $18 million in 2004 to just over $300,000, while prices for seal fur declined from more than $100 to less than $20.

June 2016: Our campaign to end commercial sealing by closing markets for their products and reducing prices for seal fur in Canada helped save 330,000 seals from the slaughter.

September 2015: The European Court of Justice rejected a final appeal brought by commercial sealing interests in a case seeking to annul the EU ban on commercial trade in seal products.

September 2015: The European Parliament voted overwhelming in favour (631 to 31) of strengthening the EU ban on commercial trade in seal products.

June 2015: Our campaign to end commercial sealing by closing markets for their products and reducing prices for seal fur in Canada helped save more than 360,000 seals from the slaughter.

April 2015: The Canadian Sealers Association announced it was scaling back its activities and restructuring in light of financial challenges.

April 2015: Carino Company Ltd., Canada’s largest seal fur processor, announced it would purchase no seal fur in 2015, and that it was rejecting an offer of $1 million in government financing for that purpose. The company cited a lack of demand while admitting to warehousing a stockpile of seal furs.

March 2015: EU Advocate General Kokott advised the European Court of Justice to reject an appeal brought by commercial sealing interests and some Inuit representatives. The appeal relates to a 2013 decision by the European General Court, which rejected the appellants’ request to find the legal basis and implementing measures for the EU ban on commercial seal product trade unlawful.

February 2015: The European Commission released a strong proposal to strengthen the European Union ban on seal product trade, closing previous loopholes and appearing to bring it into compliance with recommendations from the World Trade Organization.

January 2015: Armenia adopted a prohibition on commercial trade in harp seal fur.

December 2014: The Norwegian government voted to end subsidies to the Norwegian commercial sealing industry.

September 2014: The Swiss Council of States, the upper house of the Swiss federal legislature, approved a bill to prohibit seal product trade. The decision follows a 2012 vote by the Swiss National Council (the lower house of the federal legislature) in favour of banning seal products.

June 2014: Our campaign to end commercial sealing by closing markets for their products and reducing prices for seal fur in Canada helped save 340,000 seals from the slaughter.

May 2014: The World Trade Organization upheld the right of the European Union to ban trade in products of commercial sealing. The historic ruling was in regards to the Canadian and Norwegian appeal of a 2013 WTO Panel decision in favour of the European Union ban on seal product trade.

April 2014: Canadian Fisheries Minister Gail Shea publicly claims animal protection groups thwarted a trade agreement to sell seal meat in China.

November 2013: The World Trade Organization upheld the right of the European Union to ban trade in products of commercial seal hunts. The landmark decision was detailed in the WTO’s final report regarding the Canadian and Norwegian challenge of the EU ban.

October 2013: UBF Group Inc. was charged with conspiracy to commit a number of acts related to smuggling Canadian seal oil into the United States. An investigation by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found the California-based company was also allegedly illegally marketing more than 3.4 million seal oil capsules to customers located in the U.S., Canada and Vietnam.

October 2013: The Court of Justice of the European Union preserved the European Union’s ban on commercial seal product trade by dismissing an appeal by commercial sealing and fur trade interests and some Inuit representatives. The appeal sought to overturn the European General Court’s 2011 decision that the applicants’ action against the EU ban was inadmissible.

June 2013: A $5,000 reward provided by Humane Society International led to the identification and conviction of the individuals who viciously beat 50 nursing grey seals and their mothers to death in Prince Edward Island.

June 2013: Our campaign to end commercial sealing by closing markets for their products and reducing prices for seal fur in Canada helped save more than 300,000 seals from the slaughter.

April 2013: The European General Court dismissed a case brought by sealing industry groups and some Inuit representatives that sought to overturn the EU ban on seal product trade.

January 2013: Taiwan passed a landmark ban on trade in marine mammal products, including seal skins (with an exemption for products of traditional indigenous hunts).

April 2012: Our campaign to close global markets helped to save more than 300,000 baby seals this year. The Canadian government set a commercial quota of 400,000 harp seals, but to date, fewer than 70,000 have been killed because of the lack of demand for seal fur.

March 2012: Canada’s top seal fur buyer, NuTan Furs, Inc., announced that it would no longer process seal skins, and would instead shift its business to other (non-seal) products. The announcement caused a major shakeup in the sealing industry, leading to more speculation that it could be coming to an end.

February 2012: Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Beijing in February, and it was widely reported in Canadian media that he would lobby for an agreement for Canada to export seal meat to China. Our Chinese partners campaigned hard against this, and no deal was reached.

December 2011: Russia prohibited imports and exports of harp seal fur, closing one of the few remaining markets for the Canadian sealing industry. Sealing and government representatives reacted immediately, noting that Russia had in some years accounted for 90 percent of seal product exports from Canada. Many questioned the future viability of the commercial sealing industry in light of this development. Canada’s second largest seal fur buyer, Carino Company, Ltd., cancelled an order for 100,000 seal furs in 2012, reportedly because of the ban.

April 2011: HSI and The HSUS traveled to the ice floes off Canada’s east coast to bear witness to the commercial seal slaughter. We documented numerous apparent regulatory violations, exposing the cruelty of the commercial seal slaughter to the world. Our campaign begins now to ensure that the 2012 slaughter of baby seals in Canada never happens.

March 2011: HSI traveled to Beijing, China to meet with Chinese government authorities in response to statements made by the Canadian government that a deal had been struck to market edible seal products in China. Authorities assured HSI that no such deal exists, that they had heard the concerns of Chinese residents, and that no processing facility in Canada had been approved to import edible seal products into China.

February 2011: HSI documented the cruelty of Canada’s slaughter of grey seals on Hay Island, a part of the protected Scaterie Island Wilderness Area in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Reduced demand for seal fur this year ensured that nearly 2,000 baby seals survived that slaughter.

February 2011: Humane Society International sent renowned Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei a letter thanking her for rejecting the cruelty inherent in using seal fur. Guo had initially considered using seal fur in a dress design she was creating for Chinese celebrity Dong Qing; however, online messages of concern began pouring in from around the country from Chinese citizens outraged at the prospect of her using the skin of a baby seal. The renowned designer responded in just a few hours by making the responsible and compassionate decision not to use seal fur in her design, pledging never again to use animal fur in her work.

January 2011: Canadian Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced that China had lifted a restriction on imports of prepared (cooked) edible seal products, which was reported by Canadian media as a victory for the sealing industry. Forty Chinese groups joined with HSI in issuing a statement in response. Local activists then attended a fur fashion show in Beijing at which Minister Shea was attempting to sell seal products, and distributed hundreds of letters formally requesting that she and her sealing industry colleagues leave China and stop attempting to sell seal products to unsuspecting consumers.

December 2010: In early December, HSI and our Taiwanese partner group EAST held a media conference in Taipei to expose the cruelty of Canada’s commercial seal hunt. Several government officials attended the event and confirmed to media that they would seriously consider moving forward with a ban on seal product trade. Many of the top retailers in Taiwan pledged to discontinue sales of seal oil. Twelve television stations covered the conference. HSI also held a media conference in Seoul, South Korea, with our partner group, the Korean Animal Welfare Association, to call for a ban on seal product trade. The media interest was tremendous, with leading news agencies in attendance.

November 2010: HSI held a landmark press conference in Beijing, China to expose the cruelty of the Canadian commercial seal hunt. Thirty leading media outlets from China attended and footage of the commercial seal hunt was broadcast nationally. The resulting media coverage sparked a national outcry in China, and multiple calls for a prohibition on seal products. The Patina Restaurant Group pledged to join the Protect Seals seafood boycott. With more than 40 restaurants in Los Angeles and New York, the Patina Group is one of the most influential restaurant groups in America.

October 2010: Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States applauded a landmark ruling by the president of the European General Court to dismiss an application by commercial sealing interests to suspend the European Union Regulation prohibiting seal product trade pending the outcome of a court case. The top two buyers of seal fur from the Canadian commercial seal slaughter were among the applicants in the case.

August 2010: The European Union ban on trade in products of commercial seal hunt entered into force, removing a primary market for Canada’s commercial sealing industry, and changing history for the seals.

May 2010: Footage of the 2010 commercial seal hunt was provided to government representatives in North America and Europe.

April 2010: HSI and The HSUS documented the 2010 commercial seal slaughter, filming more than 250 apparent violations of the Marine Mammal Regulations.

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