Canada’s cruel seal hunt underway - 400,000 seals set to die
The horrific slaughter of baby seals has begun in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where Canadian sealers shoot and club to death all of the defenceless pups they can find. This annual commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on the planet.
Astonishingly, the Canadian government continues to endorse the massacre, announcing last month a total allowable catch of 400,000 seals for 2012, despite dwindling seal populations, melting ice caps and a drastic reduction in the global demand of harp seal products. Ironically, it is thought that there are currently 400,000 seal skins on the global market inventory.
“Despite mounting pressure from around the world to end to this barbaric trade, and the diminishing market in seal products across the globe, the Canadian government continues to unashamedly allow the bloodshed of baby seals,” says Alexia Wellbelove, HSI Senior Program Manager. “The killing of thousands of seals each year is unjustified ethically and economically, and HSI will continue the fight to ban the seal hunt and spare these defenceless animals from a senseless death.”
Commercial fisherman kill the seals during March and April, during a break between fishing seasons, and last year it is thought that only 225 fishermen were responsible for the deaths of over 37,000 baby seals. Most of the seals slaughtered are less than 3 months old because their pelts are the most valuable. It is only illegal to kill seals which are less than 11 days old when they still have their white fur coats (known as “whitecoats”). The seals are killed by being beaten over the head with a tool known as a hakapik, a club with a large metal spike attached, or they are shot. The sealers proceed to skin the animals on the ice and shockingly, many seals are skinned alive.
The seals are killed predominantly for their fur, but also for oil which is used in health supplements. The rest of the seal goes to waste because the meat is considered unsuitable for consumption.
In 2009 both the United States and the European Union, representing Canada’s two largest trading partners, made the move to ban trade in all commercial seal hunt products. Last year, they were followed by the Russian Federation, Belarus, and Kazakhstan who also prohibited their trade. HSI continues to work towards making Canada’s commercial seal hunt history.