Canada's 2019 Seal "Hunt"
An Animal Rights Article from

July 2019

In just one day early in April 2019 5,558 seal pups were killed.... This slaughter is not only approved by Canada's government, the government promotes, subsidizes, and facilitates this slaughter.

killing seal

According to the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, 32,102 harp seal pups were killed. In just one day early in April, 5,558 seal pups were killed.

In 2018, the official number of seals "landed" was 59,148, but this figure does not include seals who were "struck and lost" (i.e., injured seals who got away).This figure does include a "secret" number of adult seals, at most 11,654, who were killed between January and April 12, the first day of the seal pup slaughter.

On the second day of the harp seal pup slaughter 5,409 seal pups, who were most likely born some time in March, were "landed" - so more than this number were likely killed. In the next two days, 13,398 harp seal pups were "landed."

These seals were killed by a few hundred off-season commercial fishermen in Atlantic Canada, not by Inuit. These fishermen club and shoot harp seal pups each year in their nurseries on the ice floes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and just as they are learning to swim off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Almost all of the harp seals killed are pups between 3 weeks and 3 months of age.

This slaughter is not only approved by Canada's government, the government promotes, subsidizes, and facilitates this slaughter.

In many years, thousands to tens of thousands of harp seal pups drown before they are able to swim, due to a lack of sturdy sea ice. This year, the sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a major pupping area, was poor during the pupping time in February and March. This means that most of the seal pups who were born on the ice in that area probably drowned. Still, Prime Minister Trudeau allows sealers to kill those who have survived the effects of climate change, in violation of the Precautionary Principle.

Wondering why these seals are killed?

Atlantic Canadian off-season fishermen choose to go off seasonal unemployment insurance early to kill harp seal pups for their fur. But there's more to it than this. Politics and scapegoating seals are factors, too. Read more about the Canadian seal 'hunt' here.

What role do politics and propaganda play in the persistence of this atrocity?

Canada's government has a long history of funding and promoting the commercial seal 'hunt'. The government agency responsible for managing the seal 'hunt', the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, has a history of using seals as scapegoats when they failed to manage fisheries well. Read more about the government's role in sealing.

Are Inuit involved in the seal 'hunt'?

The commercial seal 'hunt' of Atlantic Canada is distinct from Inuit seal hunting. Whereas Atlantic Canadian off season fishermen mostly target harp seal pups, Inuit mostly kill adult ringed seals. Inuit, who mainly live in and kill seals from Nunavut, are not subject to the regulations (time frames, quotas) to which the off-season fishermen of Newfoundland and the Magdalen Islands are subject. Most Inuit sealers target adult seals because their main motivation is to consume the seal flesh, and adults have much more flesh than pups. Inuit also use, share, or sell seal skins as a secondary product and sometimes as source of income.

Some people refer to Inuit sealing as 'subsistence' sealing. This is debatable. Nevertheless, Inuit have an exemption from the EU ban on seal imports if the seal skins are obtained from their traditional killing; not if they target seal pups just for their fur, like the off-season Atlantic Canadian fishermen do. Read more about Inuit sealing.

Help stop the slaughter.

There are many ways to help, from simply making donations that allow us to educate people in Canada and around the world about what is happening, to organizing outreach and protest events in your town. Learn HOW YOU CAN HELP.

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