The Seal’s Voice: Shrinking demand, bans leave seal hunt in limbo & Shameless Call by Sealing Industry Lobbyists for Massive Government Subsidy to Stockpile Seal Skins

Shrinking demand, bans leave seal hunt in limbo

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A hunter heads towards a harp seal during the annual East Coast seal hunt in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence around Quebec's Iles de la Madeleine, March 25, 2009. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)A hunter heads towards a harp seal during the annual East Coast seal hunt in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence around Quebec’s Iles de la Madeleine, March 25, 2009. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Updated: Mon Mar. 05 2012 06:26:28 Staff

Seal hunters on the East Coast have started preparing for this year’s spring hunt, but a narrowing market for pelts exacerbated by international bans has some wondering if the annual practice is going to happen at all.

“Right now we’re in a situation where we don’t have very many markets,” said Jim Winter, president of the Canadian Sealers Association.

The nation’s sealing industry was dealt a sharp blow last year when Russia, a significant buyer, joined the European Union in banning commercial seal products from Canada.

Now, with weeks to go before hunters plan to launch their boats off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Winter said he’s concerned that the lucrative practice is in a state of limbo.

“It’s a question of economics,” he told CTV’s Canada AM on Monday. “If there is no market, no buyers, there’s not much point in taking the seals.”

Before a hunter heads out to The Front, the name many use when referring to the N.L. hunt, preparations must be made; boats must be readied, risks must be weighed. But if there’s no demand for pelts, Winter said he feels less inclined to participate in the hunt.

“Everybody’s looking at it and saying, ‘Well I’m not going to go if I can’t make money’ because that’s what it boils down to,” he said in an interview from St. John’s, N.L.

According to the federal Fisheries Department, up to 90 per cent of Canada’s exports of harp seal pelts have been shipped to Russia in previous years.

This isn’t, however, the first time the market for Canada’s seal pelts has shrunk. The EU banned the import of seal products in 2010, a contentious move. The U.S. banned the import of seal products in 1972.

While the actions of international buyers have hurt the industry, Winter said the effects of seal product bans have devastating consequences for Canada’s northern population.

“They have less options than we do,” said Winter, who added that the EU product ban was particularly difficult for Nunavut.

The quota for this year’s seal hunt hasn’t been set yet but Winter noted that there will still be a number of seals killed, despite decreased demand.

“Some of the buyers might be taking small numbers,” he said. “The numbers will be vastly reduced and the number of participants will be vastly reduced.”

Source: CTV.CA

Humane Society International/Canada Condemns Shameless Call by Sealing Industry Lobbyists for Massive Government Subsidy to Stockpile Seal Skins

400,000 seal skins reportedly already stockpiled on the world market

MONTREAL, QUEBEC, Mar 05, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — Statement by Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada:

“I suspect there are few sealers who would want the sealing industry to be known as a glorified welfare program. But that is exactly what it has become.

Few people want to buy seal fur, nations are banning the trade in seal products, but sealers and their allies in the Canadian government stubbornly keep paying for the killing to continue. If this seal hunt were left to sink or swim on its own in the free market, it would stop tomorrow.

A Canadian seal processor recently admitted there are hundreds of thousands of seal skins stockpiled.(1) Now, sealing industry lobbyists are calling on the government to subsidize more stockpiling. At a price that would cover the sealers’ costs, it would take many millions of dollars for the government to purchase these skins. What viable industries will be denied support if sealing lobbyists get their way?

The Canadian government shamefully provided $30 million taxpayers’ dollars in subsidies to the sealing industry in the 1980s and 1990s alone,(2) and millions more have been spent in recent years.(3) In the late 1990s, our government paid sealers per pound of seal they killed. After the program ended, government officials confirmed products were destroyed at taxpayers’ expense and the subsidy had propped up “markets” that didn’t exist.(4)

More subsidies won’t save the sealing industry-they will just continue to artificially sustain a sham industry. Instead of pouring more public money into the seal slaughter, the Canadian government should make a one-time investment in a fair sealing industry buyout. Such a plan would involve ending the seal hunt, providing immediate compensation to sealers, and developing viable economic alternatives in the communities involved.

Polling shows half of Newfoundland sealers with an opinion are already open to this plan and, with the industry openly admitting its markets are gone, it is time for the government to act.”

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International-one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than 12 million members and constituents globally-On the Web at

(1) Fauteux, H. (2011) Priorites de gestion de l’industrie du phoque. December 14.

(2) Gallon, G. 2001. The Economics of the Canadian Sealing Industry. Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment. 37 pp + appendices.

(3) Livernois, J. “The Economics of Ending Canada’s Commercial Harp Seal Hunt”, Marine Policy, 2010, Vol 34, No. 1: 42- 53.

(4) Jones, K. (Senior Fisheries Management Officer, Department of Fisheries and Oceans). 2006. 39th Parliament, 1st Session, evidence presented to Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, 15 June, 2006.

Source: The Wall Street Journal



~ by FSVSF Admin on 5 March, 2012.

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