PHOTOS: Canada’s Commercial Seal Hunt Begins, HSI Witnesses Slaughter on the Ice
14th April, 2016
Canada’s annual commercial seal hunt, in which tens of thousands of harp seals – most just a few weeks of age – are shot, clubbed and skinned for their fur, has begun. Humane Society International/Canada is the only organisation bearing witness to the slaughter and shining a global spotlight on the suffering that the commercial sealing industry doesn’t want the world to see.
HSI has gathered new photographic evidence taken yesterday of the slaughter of baby seals.
Rebecca Aldworth, executive director for HSI/Canada, said: “This is my 18th year bearing witness to the commercial seal slaughter. It is devastating to watch the suffering of these seal pups but we do so knowing that our evidence is shutting this industry down. The suffering of these defenseless pups is utterly heartbreaking. Sealers are shooting and clubbing every baby seal they see and the ice is slick with blood. One baby seal was shot in the neck and from 1000 feet in the air we could see her still moving as the blood poured out of her. With more and more countries refusing to buy commercial seal products, the primary reasons the slaughter continues today are government subsidies and the false promise that China will emerge as a major market for seal fur. Humane Society International is calling on China to set the record straight and help put right an international wrong by banning commercial trade in seal products.”
So far, 35 countries have banned trade in commercial seal products for animal welfare and conservation reasons, including the 28 European Union member states, the United States and Russia. With dwindling world markets for seal products, the Canadian sealing industry is banking on China to import the seal fur, oil and meat that other nations refuse to buy. HSI and Chinese animal group, Beijing Capital Animal Welfare Association, have joined forces to urge China to take a strong stand for seals by prohibiting commercial trade in their products.
HSI Australia has consistently called on the Australian Government to prohibit the import of seal products from commercial hunts into Australia.
Alexia Wellbelove, Senior Program Manager for HSI Australia said: “Australians are rightly appalled by the unnecessary slaughter of seal pups taking place in Canada right now. We are encouraging Australians to take action by writing to the Canadian Prime Minister urging him to stop the slaughter. The Australian Government must also take action, following the rest of the worlds lead, and ban the import of seal products and today we have once again written to the Federal Environment Minister calling on him to end Australia’s role in the demand for these cruel products.”
In the absence of global markets for seal products, the Canadian and Newfoundland governments heavily subsidise the commercial sealing industry, with public funds being used to buy seal skins that have few international buyers.
HSI Australia is publishing daily updates Live from the Ice which can be seen at http://hsi.org.au/go/to/69/canadian-seal-hunt.html#
- With more than two million seals killed since 2002, Canada’s commercial seal hunt is considered the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth.
- The seals are killed for their fur and, because the skins of young pups are most valuable, 98 percent are less than three months old at the time of slaughter.
- Veterinarians have called the methods of commercial sealing “inherently inhumane” and argue that prohibiting seal product trade is the most effective way to reduce the killing.
- The United States, the 28 countries of the European Union, Mexico, Russia and Taiwan have all prohibited trade in products of commercial seal hunts.
- In 2013 and 2014, the World Trade Organisation twice upheld the rights of nations to prohibit seal product trade for animal welfare reasons.
- HSI is now the only NGO documenting the commercial seal hunt in Canada and the evidence we gather each year is crucial for keeping seal product markets closed.
- HSI supports a fair transition program for the few hundred commercial fishermen who continue to hunt seals between other fishing seasons.