Canada’s annual commercial seal hunt is the largest commercial hunt of marine mammals on the planet. Each year, hundreds of thousands of baby harp seals are slaughtered on the ice fields off Canada’s east coast for their pelts.
Canada’s commercial seal hunt occurs on the ice floes off Canada’s East Coast in two areas: the Gulf of St. Lawrence (west of Newfoundland and east of the Magdalen Islands) and the “Front” (northeast of Newfoundland).
On 19 April, we have learned that Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans has officially closed the last and largest phase of the seal hunt off Newfoundland and Labrador.
Officials said that participation for this year’s hunt was low, mainly because of the high price of fuel and the low price of pelts, which were selling for about half of what they were a year ago.

Global Political Response
In 2005, a US Senate Resolution was introduced by Senators Levin and Collins, urging the Government of Canada to stop the hunt. The resolution has 26 co-sponsors including Foreign Relations Committee Chair Senator Richard Lugar. The US banned the trade in seal products in 1972.
In 2006, 213 members of the British House of Commons signed an Early Day Motion calling on the UK Government to introduce a ban on the import of and trade in all seal products.
In 2006, the Council of Europe passed a recommendation urging its 47 member states to promote initiatives aimed at prohibiting the trade in seal products.
In September 2006, 425 members of the European Parliament signed a historic declaration calling upon the European Commission to immediately introduce legislation to prohibit the trade in seal products. The EC then undertook a study of the humane aspects of seal hunting, the results of which could provide the foundation to ban all seal products within the EU.
Its study completed, the EC held a public consultation to measure international opinion on an EU-wide ban on the trade in seal products.
In the last four years the Canadian government has allowed over one and a quarter million baby seals to be brutally slaughtered by clubbing and shooting, with the majority of seals killed aged three months or younger. An independent veterinary study concluded that 42% of seals may have been skinned whilst still conscious. The Canadian government not only defends but also promotes this cruelty. This is the largest most brutal slaughter of marine mammals on the planet and brings shame upon Canada.

The international opposition to Canada’s annual commercial seal hunt is steadily spreading. In September 2006, the European Parliament passed a historic resolution calling on the European Commission to introduce legislation banning the trade in all harp and hooded seal products. Currently, the European Commission is evaluating the humane aspects of the seal hunting, the results of which could provide the foundation for a ban.

Closing markets are causing seal product prices to plummet. Seal skin prices in 2007 fell by a whopping 50% from last year. In part because of the drop in pelt value, hunters killed less than 80% of their allotted quota in 2007.

Paola Ghidotti
OIPA International Campaigns Director