Seal hunting

Seal hunting

:"Sealing redirects here; for other uses, see sealing (disambiguation)."

Seal hunting, or sealing, is the personal or commercial hunting of seals for their pelts, blubber, and meat; as well as to ensure the population does not reach levels that would threaten other species. [ Fisheries and Aquaculture Management - Seals and Sealing in Canada] ] The hunt is practiced in five countries: Canada, where most of the world's seal hunting takes place, as well as Greenland, Namibia, Norway, and Russia. Seal hunting is an important source of income and food in small coastal communities where other opportunities are limited.

Seal populations were severely depleted when commercial sealing became a major industry, with the world harp seal population declining to 1.5 million."Harp seal: The sealing industry," "Encyclopaedia Britannica", 2008.] As a result of population concerns hunting is now controlled by quotas based on recommendations from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), [ [ Norwegian Fishing Authority] .] and in 2007, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) set the "total allowable catch" (TAC) of harp seals at 270,000 per year. [ [ Minister Hearn Announces 2007 Management Measures for Atlantic Seal Hunt] ] This number is, by comparison, smaller than the average number of animals killed for pelts on European fur farms every week. [ [ The economics of fur farming and fur] ] Harp seals have never been considered endangered and the Marine Animal Response Society, per March 2007, estimates the harp seal population in the world at 9.5 million. [ [ "Harp Seal"] , Marine Animal Response Society.]

The practice remains highly controversial, attracting significant media coverage and protests each year. Images from the hunts have become iconic symbols for conservation, animal welfare, and animal rights advocates.


Traditional Inuit hunt

Archeological evidence indicates that the Native Americans and First Nations People in Canada have been hunting seals for at least 4,000 years. Traditionally, when an Inuit boy killed his first seal or caribou, a feast was held. The meat was an important source of protein, vitamin A and iron, and the pelts were prized for their warmth. [ [ "Ringed Seal"] , Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.] The Inuit diet is rich in fish, whale, and seal. Researchers have found high levels of mercury in the blood and tissues of polar bears, seals, and Inuit men and women. [ Polar Sunrise: Mercury in the Arctic] , University of Michigan School of Public Health, fall/winter 2005]

The Inuit seal hunting accounts for three percent of the total hunt. The traditional Inuit seal hunting is excluded from The European Commission's call in 2006 for a ban on the import, export and sale of all harp and hooded seal products. [ [ Euro MPs call for ban on seal products — - business, legal and economic news and information from the European Union ] ] The natsiq (ringed seal) have been the main staple for food, and have been used for clothing, boots, fuel for lamps, a delicacy, containers, igloo windows, and furnished harnesses for huskies. The natsiq is no longer used to this extent, but ringed seal is still an important food source for the people of Nunavut. [ [ Eskimo Art, Inuit Art, Canadian Native Artwork, Canadian Aboriginal Artwork ] ]

History of hunting elsewhere

Seal coats have long been prized for their warmth. Seal oil was often used as lamp fuel, lubricating and cooking oil, for processing such materials as leather and jute, as a constituent of soap, and as the liquid base for red ochre paint.

There is evidence that seals were hunted in northwest Europe and the Baltic Sea more than 10,000 years ago. Fact|date=March 2008 The first commercial hunting of seals is said to have occurred in 1515, when a cargo of fur seal skins from Uruguay was sent to Spain for sale in the markets of Seville. [ "History of World Fur Sealing"] .] Sealing became more prevalent in the late 1700s when seal herds in the southern hemisphere began to be hunted by whalers. In 1778, English sealers brought back from the Island of South Georgia and the Magellan Strait area as many as 40,000 seal skins and 2,800 tons of elephant seal oil. In 1791, 102 vessels, manned by 3000 sealers, were hunting seals south of the equator. The principal American sealing ports were Stonington and New Haven Connecticut. [ Muir, Diana, Reflections in Bullough's Pond, University Press of New England, 2001] Most of the pelts taken during these expeditions would be sold in China.

The Newfoundland seal hunt became an annually recorded event starting in 1723. By the late 1800s, sealing had become the second most important industry in Newfoundland, second only to cod fishing. [cite web|url=|title=Canadian Geographic Sealing Timeline] The peak of the sealing industry occurred in 1821, when Lloyd's Register had 164 sealing vessels on their records.

Commercial sealing in Australasia appears to have started with Eber Bunker, master of the "William and Ann" who announced his intention in November 1791 to visit Dusky Sound in New Zealand, did call in that country and had skins on board when he got back to Britain. [Peter Entwisle, "Behold the Moon: The European Occupation of the Dunedin District 1770-1848", Dunedin, NZ: Port Daniel Press, 1998, pp.10-11.] Captain Raven of the "Britannia" stationed a party at Dusky from 1792-93 but the discovery of Bass Strait, between mainland Australia and Van Diemen's Land, now called Tasmania, saw the sealers' focus shift there in 1798 when a gang including Daniel Cooper was landed from the "Nautilus" on Cape Barren Island. [Robert McNab, "Murihiku", Invercargill, NZ: 1907, pp.70-71 & 78-79.] With Bass Strait over-exploited by 1802 attention returned to southern New Zealand where Stewart Island and Foveaux Strait were explored, exploited and charted from 1803 to 1804. [Entwisle, 1998, pp.13-15.] Thereafter attention shifted to the subantarctic Antipodes Islands, 1805-7, the Auckland Islands from 1806, the south east coast of New Zealand's South Island, Otago Harbour and Solander Island by 1809, before focusing further to the south at the newly discovered Campbell Island and Macquarie Island from 1810. [Entwisle, 1998, pp.13-16; Ian S. Kerr, "Campbell Island a History" Wellington, NZ: A.H. & A. W. Reed, 1976; J.S. Cumpston, "Macquarie Island", Canberra, Aus: Antarctic Division, Department of External Affairs, 1968.] In this time sealers were active on the southern coast of mainland Australia, for example at Kangaroo Island. [J.S. Cumpston, "Kangaroo Island", Canberra, Aus: Roebuck Society, 1970. ] This whole development has been called the first sealing boom and sparked the Sealers' War in southern New Zealand. By the mid teens of the 19thC sealing had faded. There was a brief revival from 1823 but this was very short-lived. [McNab, 1907.] Although highly profitable at times and affording New South Wales one of its earliest trade staples, its unregulated character saw its self-destruction. Some traders were Australian-based, notably Simeon Lord, Henry Kable, James Underwood and Robert Campbell, but American and British traders and seamen were engaged in it too, such as the Plummers of London and the Whitneys of New York. [Entwisle, 1998; Edmund Fanning, "Voyages Round the World...", New York, US: Collins & Hannay, 1833; D.R. Hainsworth, "The Sydney Traders, Simeon Lord and his Contemporaries 1788-1821", Melbourne, Sydney, Aus: Cassell Australia, 1971; Margaret Steven, "Merchant Campbell 1769-1846 a Study in the Colonial Trade", Melbourne, Aus: Oxford University Press, 1965.]

By 1830, most seal stocks had been seriously depleted, and Lloyd's records only showed one full-time sealing vessel on its books. [cite web|url=|title=History of World Fur Sealing] Since then, a number of nations have outlawed the hunting of seals and other marine mammals. The landmark North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911 was the first international treaty specifically addressing wildlife conservation. [cite web|url=|title=North Pacific Fur Seal Treaty of 1911|publisher=National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] Today, commercial sealing is conducted by only five nations: Canada, Greenland, Namibia, Norway, and Russia. The United States, which had been heavily involved in the sealing industry, now maintains a complete ban on the commercial hunting of marine mammals, with the exception of indigenous peoples who are allowed to hunt a small number of seals each year. [ [ "Commentary & Editorials"] , Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, 2003.]

Equipment and method

Rifles and hakapiks are permitted. Canadian sealing regulations describe the dimensions of the clubs and the hakapiks, and caliber of the rifles and minimum bullet velocity, that can be used. They state that: "Every person who strikes a seal with a club or hakapik shall strike the seal on the forehead until its skull has been crushed," and that "No person shall commence to skin or bleed a seal until the seal is dead," which occurs when it "has a glassy-eyed, staring appearance and exhibits no blinking reflex when its eye is touched while it is in a relaxed condition." [ [ Marine Mammal Regulations, SOR/93-56] ]


One method of killing seals is with the hakapik, a heavy wooden club with a hammer head and metal hook on the end. The hakapik is used because of its efficiency, the animal can be killed quickly without damage to its pelt. The hammer head is used to crush the skull, while the hook is used to move the carcass.

The hakapik is the primary tool of hunters in the Gulf of St.Lawrence. Hunters who operate on the 'front' off the northeast coast of Newfoundland primarily use high powered rifles. The hakapik is then used as a last resort in retrieving the animal from the ice floe, and ensuring it is completely incapacitated.

Modern sealing

Products made from seals

Seal skins are used to make waterproof jackets and boots, and seal fur to make fur coats. Pelts account for over half the processed value of a seal, selling at over $100 each as of 2006. [ [ Seal pelts fetch record prices] ] According to Paul Christian Rieber, of GC Rieber AS, the difficult ice conditions and low quotas in 2006, resulted in less access to sealpelts, which caused the commodity price to be pushed up. [ Kjøligere for Rieber Skinn] (Norwegian), Bergens Tidende, September 12, 2007] Some high-end fashion designers, such as Donatella Versace and Gucci have begun to use seal pelts, while others, such as Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren, refrain from using any kind of fur. [ [ Save Canadian Seals List of Seal Pelt Users] .] [ [ (Fur)shion show without clothes] ]

Seal meat is an important source of food for residents of small coastal communities. Researchers have found high levels of mercury in the blood and tissues of seals, polar bears, and Inuit men and women. Meat is sold to the Asian pet food market, and used as silage. In 2004, only Taiwan and South Korea purchased seal meat from Canada.cite web |url= |title=Seal Hunt Facts] The seal blubber is used to make seal oil, which is marketed as a fish oil supplement. In 2001, two percent of Canada's raw seal oil was processed and sold in Canadian health stores. There has been virtually no market for seal organs since 1998.

ealing nations

In 2005, three companies exported seal skin: Rieber in Norway, Atlantic Marine in Canada and Great Greenland in Greenland. [ Sel skinn selger igjen] (Norwegian), Aftenposten, May 2, 2005. Retrieved on 2008-05-06] Their clients were earlier French fashion houses and fur makers in Europe, but today the fur is mainly exported to Russia and China.


:"For the current 2008 Canadian hunt, see: 2008 Canadian Commercial Seal Hunt"In Canada, the season for the commercial hunt of harp seal is from November 15 to May 15. [ "Atlantic Seal Hunt 2003-2005 Management Plan"] , Fisheries and Aquaculture Management, Canada.] Most sealing occurs in late March in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and during the first or second week of April off Newfoundland, in an area known as "The Front." This peak spring period is generally what is referred to as the "Canadian Seal Hunt". [ "Frequently Asked Questions About Canada's Seal Hunt"] , Fisheries and Aquaculture Management, Canada.]

In 2003, the three-year harp seal quota granted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was increased to a maximum of 975,000 animals per three years, with a maximum of 350,000 animals in any two consecutive years. In 2006, 325,000 harp seals, as well as 10,000 hooded seals and 10,400 grey seals were killed. An additional 10,000 animals were allocated for hunting by Aboriginal peoples.

The Canadian seal hunt is monitored by the Canadian government. Although around 70 percent of Canadian seals killed are killed on "The Front," the vast majority of private monitors focus on the St. Lawrence hunt, because of its more convenient location.cite journal|url=|first=Pierre-Yves|last=Daoust|coauthors=Alice Crook, Trent K. Bollinger, Keith G. Campbell, and James Wong|year=2002|month=September|title=Animal welfare and the harp seal hunt in Atlantic Canada|journal=The Canadian Veterinary Journal|volume=43|issue=9|pages=687-694|accessdate=2006-04-06] The 2006 St. Lawrence leg of the hunt was officially closed on Apr. 3, 2006. Sealers had exceeded the quota by 1,000 animals by the time the hunt was closed. [cite web|url=|title=Seal hunt haul 1,000 over quota|year=2006|month=April|publisher=CBC News] On March 26, 2007 the Newfoundland and Labrador government launched a .

Warm winters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence have led to thinner and more unstable ice there. In 2007, Canada's federal fisheries ministry reported that while the pups are born on the ice as usual, the ice floes have started to break up before the pups learn to swim, causing the pups to drown. [ [ Seal hunt might be on ice due to lack of it, msnbc] ] The 2007 harp seal quota was reduced 20 percent by Canadian authorities because overflights showed large numbers of seal pups were lost to thin and melting ice.cite news|title= Warming Thins Herd for Canada's Seal Hunt|url=|publisher=Washington Post|date=2007-04-04
] However in southern Labrador and off Newfoundland's northeast coast, there was extra heavy ice in 2007, and the coast guard estimated that as many as 100 vessels were trapped in ice simultaneously. [ [ Heavy ice keeps dozens of vessels from seal hunt] ] [ [ Canadian seal hunters could remain trapped by ice for a week: coast guard] ]

;RegulationsThe "Seal Protection Regulations" were established under the Fisheries Act by the Government of Canada in the mid-1960s. The regulations were combined with other Canadian marine mammals regulations in 1993, into the "Marine Mammal Regulations". [ [ Sealing Industry] , Government of Newfoundland and Labrador] [ [ Improvements to Seal Hunt Management Measures] , Fisheries and Oceans Canada] [ [ Sealing] , The Canadian Encyclopedia] In addition to describing the use of the rifle and hakapik (see further up in this article), regulations also state that every person "who fishes for seals for personal or commercial use shall land the pelt or the carcass of the seal." The commercial hunting of infant harp seals (whitecoats) and infant hooded seals (bluebacks) was banned in Canada in 1987 under pressure from animal rights groups. Now seals may only be killed once they have started moulting (from 12 to 15 days of age for harp seals), as this coincides with the time when they are abandoned by their mothers. These pups, who have not yet completely moulted, are known as "ragged-jackets". Once the pups have completely moulted, they are called "beaters".

;ExportCanada's biggest market for seal pelts is Norway. [cite web |url= |title=EU politicians push to ban Canadian seal product imports |accessdate=2007-10-24] Carino Limited is one of Newfoundland's largest seal pelt producers. Carino (CAnada-RIeber-NOrway) is marketing its seal pelts mainly through its parent company, GC Rieber Skinn, Bergen, Norway. [cite web |url= |title=Secondary Processing of Seal Skins] Canada sold pelts to eleven countries in 2004, with Norway, Germany, Greenland, and China, including Hong Kong, purchasing the largest quantities. Other buying countries were Finland, Denmark, France, Greece, South Korea, and Russia. [cite web|url=|title=Seal Hunt Facts|publisher=Sea Shepherd Conservation Society] Asia remains the principal market for seal meat exports. [cite web |url= |title=Seals and sealing in canada] One of Canada's market access priorities for 2002, was to "continue to press Korean authorities to obtain the necessary approvals for the sale of seal meat for human consumption in Korea." [] Canadian and Korean officials agreed in 2003 on specific Korean import requirements for seal meat. [cite web |url= |title=Canada's International Market Access Priorities |year=2004 |accessdate=2007-10-24] For 2004, only Taiwan and South Korea purchased seal meat from Canada.


Although official figures for the Greenland seal hunt are not available, the government of Canada estimates that 20,000 to 25,000 seals are killed in Greenland annually. [cite web|url=|title=The Harp Seal|publisher=Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada] In January 2006, the government of Greenland banned imports of Canadian seal skins, citing fears that Canadian seals are brutally beaten to death. The boycott may be an effort to distance Greenland's own seal hunt from Canada's, and spare themselves negative press in the process. [ [ Greenland bans Canadian sealskins -] ] The ban was rescinded in May 2006, with the Greenland Home Rule Government noting that the seal hunt in Canada has sensible regulations on hunting methods, drawn up in close cooperation with biologists, veterinarians, weapons experts and seal hunters.Fact|date=March 2008 It further noted that seal-hunting in Canada is subject to strict and extensive control measures, which some claim has led to the use of effective and humane killing methods.


In 2000, the Namibian government approved a quota of 67,000 Cape fur seals, including 60,000 pups and 7,000 bulls. [ [ Namibia to cull 67 000 seals] ]


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The Norwegian sealing season runs from January to September. The hunt involves "seal catching" by seagoing sealing boats on the Arctic ice shelf, and "seal hunting" on the coast and islands of mainland Norway. The latter is carried out by small groups of licenced hunters shooting seals from land and using small boats to retrieve the catch. In 2005, Norway began offering seal hunting as a tourist attraction. [ [ Fact sheet on Norwegian coastal seals -] ] In 2006, 17,037 seals (including 13,390 harp and 3,647 hooded seals) were harvested. [Statistics Norway: [ Sealing] ] In 2007 the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs stated that up to 13.5 million Norwegian krone (ca 2.6 mill. US dollar) would be given in funding, to vessels in the 2007 Norwegian seal hunt. [ [ Selfangsten i 2007] (Norwegian), Government of Norway, February 27, 2007]


Norwegian seal-hunters are only permitted to use rifles to kill seals. Hakapiks are only allowed for seal catching. [ [ for 1996-05-06 nr 414: Forskrift om forvaltning av sel på norskekysten] ]


In Norway in 2004, only Rieber worked with sealskin and seal oil. [ [ Utviklingsplan for selspekk (.pdf file)] (Norwegian), Fiskeri- og havbruksnæringens forskningsfond (FHF), February, 2004] In 2001, the biggest producer of raw seal oil, was Canada. (Two percent of the raw oil was processed and sold in Canadian health stores.) Rieber had the majority of all distribution of raw seal oil in the world market, but there was no demand for seal oil. [ 5 Forslag til tiltak] (Norwegian), Government of Norway, March, 2001] From 1995 to 2005 Rieber annually received between 2 and 3 million Norwegian krone in subsidy. [ [ - Norge betaler for kanadisk seljakt] , VG, March 30, 2005] In a 2003-2004 parliamentary report, it says that CG Rieber Skinn is the only company in the world that delivers skin from bluebacks. [ [ St.meld. nr. 27 (2003-2004) - Norsk sjøpattedyrpolitikk] (Norwegian). Government of Norway (2003-2004)] Most of the skins processed by Rieber, have been imported from abroad, mainly from Canada. Only a small portion is from the Norwegian hunt. Of the processed skin, 5 percent is sold in Norway, the rest is exported to the Russian and Asian market.

Fortuna Oils AS (established in 2004) is a 100% owned subsidiary of GC Rieber. [ [ News archives - Fortuna Oils AS increases its ownership in OliVita AS] , Olivita AS, April 26, 2006] They get the majority of their raw oil imported from Canada. [ Fortuna Oils] , Fortuna Oils] They also have access to raw oil from the Norwegian hunt.


The Russian seal hunt has not been well monitored since the break-up of the Soviet Union. [ [ SCS: Caspian Seal (Phoca caspica)] ] The quota in 1998 was 35,000 animals. [ [ News from the High North Alliance] ] There have been reports that many whitecoat pups are not properly killed and are transported, while injured, to processing areas. In January 2000, a bill to ban seal hunting was passed by the Russian parliament by 273 votes to 1, but was vetoed by President Vladimir Putin. [ [ Harp Seal, Pagophilus groenlandicus at] ]

On September 21, 2007 in Arhangelsk, the Norwegian company GC Rieber Skinn AS, proposed a joint Russian-Norwegian seal hunting project. The campaign was carried out from one hunt boat supplied by GS Rieber skinn AS in 2007, lasted 2 weeks and brought in 40 000 roubles per Russian hunter. GS Rieber skinn AS declared a plan to order 20 boats and donate them to the Pomor.cite web| last=Istomina | first=Ludmila | url= | title=Rieber Skinn AS has proposed to the Pomors | publisher=The Norwegian Barents Secretariat | accessdate = 2008-03-04 ] CG Rieber Skinn AS, in 2007 established a daughter company in Arkhangelsk, called GC Rieber Skinn Pomor'e Lic. (GC Rieber Skinn Pomorje).

The Norwegian company Polardrift AS, in 2007, had plans to establish a company in Russia, and operate under Russian flag, in close cooperation with GC Rieber Skinn Pomor'e.

Plans for the 2008 season include both helicopter-based hunt, mainly to take whitecoats, and boat-based hunt, mainly targeting beaters.cite web| url= | title=The 36th Session of the Joint Norwegian - Russian Fisheries Commission, St Petersburg, Russia, 22-26 October 2007 (.pdf-file) | publisher=Government of Norway | accessdate = 2008-03-04 ]

ealing debate

Canada has become the center of the sealing debate because of the comparatively large size of its hunt.

Cruelty to animals

According to recent studies done by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), the hakapik, when used properly, kills the animal quickly and painlessly. Several American studies carried out from 1969-1972 in the Pribilof Islands of Alaska came to the same conclusion. [cite web|url=|title=HSUS Seal protection program] The Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing in Canada, also known as the Malouf Commission, claims that properly performed clubbing is at least as humane as the methods used in commercial slaughterhouses, and according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), these studies "have consistently proven that the club or hakapik is an efficient tool designed to kill the animal quickly and humanely."

A study of the 2001 Canadian seal hunt conducted by five independent veterinarians, commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), [ [ Ensuring A Sustainable And Humane Seal Harvest] ] concluded that, although the hakapik is a humane means of hunting, many hunters were not using it properly. This improper use, they said, was leading to "considerable and unacceptable suffering," and in 17 percent of the cases they observed, there were no detectable lesions of the skull whatsoever. In numerous other cases, the seals had to be struck multiple times before they were considered "unconscious." [ [ IFAW study] .] These findings are at odds with the CVMA report which states that Daoust, at the same time and in the same location, recorded that 86 percent of skulls had been completely crushed by strikes with hakapiks. It states further that two years previously, Bollinger and Campbell had recorded that 98.2 percent of the skulls examined were completely crushed. [ [ Animal welfare and the harp seal hunt in Atlantic Canada] ]

In 2005, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) commissioned the Independent Veterinarians Working Group Report. With reference to video evidence, the report states: "Perception of the seal hunt seems to be based largely on emotion, and on visual images that are often difficult even for experienced observers to interpret with certainty. While a hakapik strike on the skull of a seal appears brutal, it is humane if it achieves rapid, irreversible loss of consciousness leading to death." [ [ Independent Veterinarians Working Group Report] .]

The 2001 report contained a number of recommendations on how sealing could be conducted more humanely. They did not, however, recommend the disuse of the controversial hakapik. Actually, the report recommended more training, mandatory blink-reflex tests for unconsciousness, and the cessation of open-water hunting. The report also recommended that seals be bled out immediately after clubbing, in order to ensure that the animals are unconscious when skinning begins. This is a recommendation taken in response to incidents of seals regaining consciousness after clubbing. [The Thick, Deadening Sound of the Seal Hunt [] ] It has also been strongly recommended that seals killed by guns to be shot to a quick death, not be wounded and left to die. [ The 2002 CVMA report] , however, indicated an average time of 45.2 seconds between the animal being shot and a sealer killing it with a hakapik. The report concluded that this time compared well with established and acceptable humane killing practices according to the [ Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards] where acceptable times range from 45-300 seconds.

Ecological feasibility

According to the DFO, the harp seal population is now stable at about five million animals, three times as many seals as in the 1970s. They say that Canada's annual quota of 325,000 harp seals, and an additional 10,000 harp seal allowance for new Aboriginal initiatives, personal use, and Arctic hunts, does not significantly impact the harp seal population. Protestors respond that this figure represents only a fraction of the total number of seals killed, because many seals' bodies fall into the water or under the ice and are not counted. The CVMA has replied that this is untrue for the Canadian seal hunt, and that the Canadian seals that have been "struck and lost" is less than five percent (16,250 animals) of the total harvest. They suggest that this is because, in Canada, the majority of seals are killed on the ice, not in the sea. []

Greenpeace has further stated that the quota is an unreliable estimate of the total kill, not only because of "struck and lost" statistics, but also because seals with pelt damage are discarded and not accounted for. [ [ "Greenpeace press release"] .]

Objections to fur

Animal welfare advocates object to fur, when many synthetic "faux fur" alternatives are available. On the other hand, fur advocates will claim the material's superior warmth, style, and that it is a renewable resource. It is often argued that real is superior to synthetic fur that is petroleum based product and can release highly toxic prussic acid into the environment.Fact|date=September 2008 Real fur is completely biodegradable and lasts longer.Fact|date=September 2008 Others counter that the chemicals used to process fur are highly toxic and therefore negate any environmental advantage of fur over synthetic products.Fact|date=September 2008

Economic impact

According to Canadian authorities, the value of the 2004 seal harvest was $16.5 million CAD, which significantly contributes to seal manufacturing companies, and for several thousand fishermen and First Nations peoples. For some sealers, they claim, proceeds from the hunt make up a third of their annual income. Critics, however, say that this represents only a tiny fraction of the $600-million Newfoundland fishing industry. Sealing opponents also say that $16.5 million is insignificant, compared to the funding required to regulate and subsidize the hunt. For 1995 and 1996 there are confirmed reports that The Department of Fisheries and Oceans encouraged maximum utilization of harvested seals through a $0.20 per pound meat subsidy.December 18, 1995; [ Tobin announces 1996 Atlantic Seal Management Plan] ; "Fisheries and Oceans Canada"; retrieved from February 24, 2008.] The level of subsidy totalled $650,000 in 1997, $440,000 in 1998 and $250,000 in 1999. There were no meat subsidies in 2000.2000; [ Seals and Sealing in Canada] ; "Fisheries and Oceans Canada"; retrieved from February 24, 2008.] Some critics, such as the McCartneys (see below), have suggested that promoting that area as an eco-tourism site would be far more lucrative than the annual harvest. [cite web|url=|title=BBC]

As a culling method

In March 2005, Greenpeace asked DFO to "dispel the myth that seals are hampering the recovery of cod stocks." In doing so, they implied that the seal hunt is, at least in part, a cull designed to increase cod stocks. Cod fishing has traditionally been a key part of the Atlantic fishery, and an important part of the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans have responded that there is no connection between the annual seal harvest and the cod fishery, and that the seal hunt is "established on sound conservation principles." [ [ "Canadian Seal Hunt Myths and Realities"] .]


Many animal-protection groups encourage people to petition against the harvest. Respect for Animals and Humane Society International believe the hunt will be ended only by the financial pressure of a boycott of Canadian seafood. In 2005, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) called for such a boycott in the United States. [ [ UnderwaterTimes | Canadian Seafood Boycott Ends Year With Growing Momentum ] ]

Protesters occasionally use images of whitecoats, despite Canada's ban on the commercial hunting of suckling pups. The HSUS explains this by saying that images of the legally hunted "ragged jackets" can be nearly indistinguishable from those of whitecoats. Also, they report official DFO kill reports show 97 percent of the seals killed over the past five years have been under three months of age, and the majority has been less than one month old. [ [ The Truth | The Humane Society of the United States ] ]

On March 26, 2006, seven protesters were arrested in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for violating the terms of their observer permits. By law, observers must maintain a ten-meter distance between themselves and the sealers. [ [ Seven protesters arrested as tempers flare in seal hunt] , CBC News.] In the same month, as part of a counter-protest, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams encouraged people in the province to boycott Costco after the retailer decided to stop carrying seal-oil capsules. [ [ Williams takes aim at Costco over seal-oil fuss] , CBC News.] Costco stated that politics played no role in their decision to remove the capsules, and on April 4 that year, they were again being sold in Costco stores. [ [ - Experiencing Technical Difficulties ] ]

Belgian ban

In January 2007, Belgium became the first European country to ban all seal products in a unanimous vote of Belgian parliamentarians. [ [ "Belgium first European country to ban all seal products"] .] Shortly afterwards, Greenland claimed it would sue Belgium for a move that it said would violate European Union law and cripple the livelihood of Inuit hunters. Greenland's minister for finance and foreign affairs expressed concern that other EU countries might follow suit. [ [ "Greenland to Challenge Belgium If Sealskin Is Banned"] , Bloomberg, 2007.] Canada has launched a challenge to the ban. [ [ Ottawa prepares WTO challenge on Belgian seal ban] ]

The European Union executive commission has rejected appeals for an EU-wide ban on the import of seal fur products in response to an EU assembly vote in 2006 in favour of one. [ [ "EU Rejects Ban on Canadian Seal Products"] , Forbes, 2007.] [ [,,2010512,00.html "Britain blasted for backing seal ban"] , "The Guardian", 2007.]

Celebrity involvement

Numerous celebrities have opposed the commercial seal hunt, including Richard Dean Anderson, Charles Aznavour, Kim Basinger, Juliette Binoche, [ [ IOL: Anderson adds her voice to chorus of protests ] ] Sir Paul McCartney, Kasabian, Heather Mills, Mick Jagger, George Harrison, Pamela Anderson, Martin Sheen, Mogwai (band), Pierce Brosnan, Paris Hilton, Sara Quin, [ [ Morrissey Launches Canadian Boycott To Protest Seal Hunt ] ] Loretta Swit, Robert Kennedy, Jr., [ [ McCartneys won't be charged ] ] Rutger Hauer, [ [ Sea Shepherd and Seal Defenders Take to the Streets ] ] Brigitte Bardot, John Paul DeJoria, Ed Begley, Jr., Dave Foreman, Farley Mowat, Linda Blair, Berkeley Breathed, Rolf Harris, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, [ [ Press Releases & Media Attention about the Canadian Harp seal kill- ] ] Jet, The Vines, Hawthorne Heights, Pink, The Darkness, and Good Charlotte. [ [ "Jet" and "the Vines" Fight to Save the Seals Music, movie & Entertainment News ] ]

In March 2006, Brigitte Bardot traveled to Ottawa in March to protest the hunt, though the prime minister turned down a request for a meeting. During the same month, Paul McCartney and Heather Mills McCartney toured the Gulf of St. Lawrence sealing grounds, and spoke out against the seal hunt, including as guests on Larry King Live, where the two debated with Danny Williams, the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

On March 27, 2006, singer Morrissey released a statement saying that he would not include any dates in Canada on his world tour that year. [ [ Statement from Morrissey | True To You] ] In July 2007, British/Australian artist and television presenter, Rolf Harris released an acid-techno single entitled "Slaughter on the Ice," made in collaboration with electronic music artist Steve Lima. The song is based on a poem of Harris's that graphically depicts the nature of the hunt and his view of hunters.

In fiction

* Kipling's "The White Seal", part of "The Jungle Book", describes seal hunting from the seals' point of view, with the central character being a white seal seeking for his seals a safe haven from hunters.
* Jack London's novel "The Sea Wolf" takes place aboard "the schooner "Ghost", bound seal-hunting for Japan" circa 1893.

ee also

*Flipper pie
*John Davis (sealer)
*Odd F. Lindberg
*Seal finger


External links

;Pro-sealing views
* [ Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans]
* [ Canadian Sealers Association]
* [ Defence by Editor of The Spectator]
* [ Michael Harris, Ottawa Sun]
* [ Sealing Industry Fact Sheet from Government of Newfoundland and Labrador]
* [ Seán Ó Neachtain, Member of the European Parliament ]
* [ The Environmentalist's case for the Seal Hunt]
* []

;Anti-sealing views
* [ Anti Sealing Skybanner Campaign]
* [ Atlantic Canadian Anti-Sealing Coalition]
* [ Do Something!]
* []
* [ Help Stop the Seal Hunt-Help Promote Policy with]
* [ HSUS Protect Seals Campaign]
* [ IFAW: Seal hunt]
* [ Respect for Animals Boycott Canada Campaign]
* [ Scandinavian Anti-Sealing Coalition]
* [ Sea Shepherd Conservation Society]

* [ A Response to the Canadian Department of Fisheries "Myths and Facts"] , by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
* [ "Animal welfare and the harp seal hunt in Atlantic Canada"] , copyright and/or publishing rights held by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, site is maintained by the U.S. Government.
* [ Atlantic Canada Seal Hunt Myths and Realities] , produced and/or compiled by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
* [ Canadian Seal Hunt History] website is part of the International Marine Mammal Association, inc. (IMMA)
* [ CBC Digital Archives - Pelts, Pups and Protest: The Atlantic Seal Hunt]
* [ Harp Seal Info. & History] , produced and/or compiled by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
* [ History of World Fur Sealing] (originally from Fahan School, Australia?)
* [ ICES/NAFO Working Group on Harp and Hooded Seals] , International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)
* [ Internet Guide To International Fisheries Law] , OceanLaw is an independent initiative focusing on international law of the sea and international fisheries law research, resource development and consultancy.
* [ Offshore/Inshore Fisheries Development - Harp Seal] , Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland.
* [ Seal Hunt FAQ] , CBC.
* [ Sourced Facts, news articles and opinion pieces on the Seal Hunt.]
* [ The Seal Hunter - A seal hunting simulation game]
* [ Transcript of a Larry King Interview with The McCartneys and Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams]

;News articles
* [ "Canada seal cull gets underway"] , BBC News.
* [ Canadian Press, "Seal hunt supporters in Quebec and Labrador confront animal-rights protesters"] , "Ottawa Citizen, April 13, 2006.
* [ "Cute, cuddly, edible: Defending Canada's seal hunters"] , "The Economist", 2 June 2008
* [ Paul McCartney urges the Canadian Prime Minister to stop the seal hunt] , "SpicyEdition".
* [ "Seal hunt helped us survive"] , Toronto Sun.
* [ "The shame of seal hunting"] , American Chronicle.

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