Is this the beginning of the end of the Canadian commercial seal hunt?



Comments being made in certain quarters of the Canadian politicalhierarchymay indicate that there is a creepingrealisationthat the negative publicity that Canada receives from its adherence to the annual commercial seal hunt is not worth the financial returns obtained from the selling of seal products.

Ryan Cleary, a New Democrat MP representing Labrador and Newfoundland has recently angered the pro sealing minority by saying that he feels no one wants seal products anymore and going on to say that”…Part of our history is also whaling, for example, and the day came when the whaling industry stopped…”

Mr Cleary, much to the consternation of the sealers, added “…We know that the world appetite is not there for seal meat, but the world appetite for seal products — I don’t know if it’s there. And you know what? I may be shot for talking about this, and for saying this, but it’s a question we all have to ask…”

The industry appears to be in terminal decline.The Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Belarus are the latest countries to stop importing seal products with the Russian premier, Vladimir Putin calling the hunt “…a bloody industry that should have been stopped years ago…”

In a further blow, Carino, one of the main buyers of seal products in Newfoundland, has just put on hold the proposed purchase of 100,000 pelts this year because of developments in Russia, and discussions looking at selling seal meat in China have run into unspecified difficulties.

In spite of addingthat he (Ryan Cleary) and the federal NDP still officially support the seal hunt this softening of attitudes may signal the beginning of the end of a commercial seal hunt that has become a millstone around the neck of successiveOttawaadministrations, damaged Canada’s image on the World stage and possibly affected the countries tourism revenues.

Pro sealing factions have reactedangrilytrying to shift the emphasis away from a previously held assertion that this should be supported by central government because it was a traditionalactivity; to one where the seal populations need to be controlled because they eat vast quantities ofcommercialfish species. According to the sealing community around 12 million tonnes of fish a year!

From a conservation management point of view there may come a time when Canada’s seal populations in the North East and the Maritimes need to be controlled under aproperlyregulated, scientifically driven programme; but few, it appears,will lament the passing of a brutal and indiscriminate industry that has caused so much damage to Canada’s imageabroad.

Seals being harvested on Ice Floes off Newfoundland

Harp Seal on Canadian Ice Floe

Sealer about to club a Harp Seal

Nic Slocum

Nic Slocum

Nic Slocum is an experienced naturalist and wildlife guide and is best known for his escorted tours taking enthusiasts out, both in Ireland and overseas, to view and photograph whales and dolphins. Nic maintains a lifelong passion for using the written word to promote the conservation of our wildlife and wild places and has appeared as an expert commentator on both radio and TV. A zoologist by training, Nic has published articles on conservation related issues in regional and national newspapers. Nic is a director of Whale Watch West Cork.com and Whales World Wide.com

Nic Slocum

Nic Slocum

Nic Slocum is an experienced naturalist and wildlife guide and is best known for his escorted tours taking enthusiasts out, both in Ireland and overseas, to view and photograph whales and dolphins. Nic maintains a lifelong passion for using the written word to promote the conservation of our wildlife and wild places and has appeared as an expert commentator on both radio and TV. A zoologist by training, Nic has published articles on conservation related issues in regional and national newspapers. Nic is a director of Whale Watch West Cork.com and Whales World Wide.com

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Ken Billington

Nic, this is a brutal industry. The sooner Canada and other countries involved decide to ban this practice and to build the ban into their legislation the better. An excellent article highlighting a key conservation issue.