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Nature

Is Canada's Gray Seal Hunt Cancelled Due to Lack of Demand?

Thousands of gray seals could be spared particularly brutal deaths this year because sealers have been unable to find a buyer for the pelts.

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This news comes as the European Union considers a ban on all seal products, an action which some think drove typical pelt buyers to rethink their purchase this year. Multiple sources say the hunt will likely not happen, but Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans still officially say the hunt is on.

“The cancellation of Nova Scotia’s grey seal hunt is a tremendous victory for the seals,” said Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International/Canada. “It is incredibly heartening to know that thousands of seal pups will be spared from a fate similar to the unbearable carnage we documented last year during the slaughter on Hay Island.”

Some sealers worry that they will not be able to find a buyer for the larger annual harp seal hunt either.

The Humane Society has petitioned the Canadian government to buy-out sealing licenses from affected sealers and to begin developing different economies for coastal communities that rely on the seal hunts to make money.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/oh1MIVk-Bgg&hl=en&fs=1]

Photo credit: MGSpiller on Flickr under Creative Commons license.




29 comments
  1. Nora Jones

    There’s nothing like nit picking when you have no other defence. In answer to the criticism about the picture, Alex commented that it was the first one he had come across – end of story. Another thing, I have heard suggested numerous times that tourism would be a fnancially viable ialternative to the senseless killing. What a great idea!

  2. Val

    Alex great post and yes us supporters of your post are showing up and commenting.

    Far from a few lone aborigines staking out the day’s kill for their food the yearly seal hunt is flat out a slaughter of baby seals.

    Sure it is illegal to hunt the white fur babies – but this white pelt is most certainly poached and no doubt sold for a good price if even on a black market. These poachers easily blend in with the wholesale carnage going on.

    The seals are still pup seals being killed – quite unpleasantly. Bashing the heads of these baby seals is not always a clean quick kill. Shooting them and allowing them to fall wounded into the water is not a humane death either.

    Get some tourism or something going – boycotting the Canadian seafood industry is in full swing and gaining and now the winter Olympics looming will have some boycotting going on.

    It will be more costly to have consumers turned off by all this bloody carnage!

    Canada = carnage of babies – great marketing tool Canada!

  3. Bea B

    Looks like we got some sealers here? Please stop your whining. I hope the European Union bans import. This awful massacre must stop, we don’t need it! Change to tourism instead, then we may embrace Canada once again. Oh, that is right after they ban Bear shooting for fur. Another awful “profession” of Canada.

  4. Bea B

    I am not feeling sorry for sealers. They dish it out but can’t take it? What are you? Change your jobs, Killing is out, Tourists are in. Simply. And stop crying will you. I am glad, that the European Union is considering banning seal products. We don’t need this cruel trade. Maybe then we will embrace Canada again. Oh, right after they ban bear shooting!!!!

  5. Bea B

    Looks like you attracted some sealers here. I for one am opposed to seal hunting. It is cruel and not necessary. I am glad that the European Union considers banning it all together. We don’t need this cruelty. Killing is out, Tourists are in. Change the way you think and the world will embrace Canada once more. Ah, that is right after they ban bear hunting for fur!! Tradition is no excuse for cruelty. And no, I am not sorry for sealers hardship. If you dish it out, then you have to take it aswell.

  6. jane

    Thank you, Rachel! For a moment I thought devastation was already striking the earth and the end of the world was just around the corner from what I read by the idiots.

  7. Sofia

    To be honest; I find it a complete waste of time to be arguing with some people, but I will make one final post.
    First of all; my goal was never to argue with whomever would respond. This was initially a discussion with Alex. Who incidentally responded well. Many thanks for that Alex. He for one refrained from simply responding in an insulting manner as a response to comments made and took positive action.
    Like it or not, there are many dimensions to the hunt and hunting of seal by Aboriginal peoples (Inuit in this case). They are cultural, socio-economic and survival based. Whether some of you that have posted responses on Alex’s initial post agree with this or not is basically irrelevant. There is more to the world than to not kill an animal. Some people depend on these animals for survival (nourishment as well as commerce – yes, Inuit do sell the furs of seal they hunt – so yes, the European ban affects Inuit). As to my personal opinion – it is not more important to preserve culture over the life of a living being. However, my emphasis is not just the seals, but the whole picture. It is a balance issue that is at hand here…M’dear (L).
    As to what I think of some of you – I don’t. I think about how Inuit are affected and work on the issue as well as I can. Contrary to some… So some responses may be and have been insulting, aggressive – whatever. It does not matter. Being able to perceive the whole picture is important – whatever you think about this matter. It is not simply a matter of hating the hunt supporters/hunt opponents – although I do not hate anyone who does oppose the hunt. My opinions/feelings regarding this issue are a little more complex than that. And in some way I understand some of the reasoning behind the comments. But this does not eliminate the fact that the Southern/urban perspective does not have the right of way and is not necessarily the correct way to handle a situation.
    So, take it or leave it – in terms of what I have said. It does not really matter. Because in the end these (my comments – and yours) are just writing on the internet. Having a greater understanding of a situation, being able to strike a balance and actually think beyond the ‘I love animals and don’t want baby animals to be killed’ scenario is really far more important in the greater scheme of things. Oh and to maybe act in a manner that benefits us all (meaning including Inuit and the other hunters) might also be a bit of a boon…don’t you think?
    Please keep in mind that this last sentence was a rhetorical question. No need to answer. I won’t be back to read whatever will follow anyways.
    Have a nice day all and good luck with your future writings Alex. I’ve read some of your previous posts and found them quite interesting.

  8. animalactivist

    IN truth, the issue of what color a young seal is when it’s slaughtered is…’a red herring’. Here are a couple of amateur vids I’ve posted on YouTube on this issue…
    and thanks for sharing the good news about the hunt not going ahead in NS. May the declining demand for seal products finally bring an end to the mass slaughter that brings shame to this country. (and I grew up on the east coast…NOT ALL Maritimers defend this barbaric practise!) Peace.

    “They Dpn’t Really Kill the Babies, Do They?”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHoY8Tc3bsw

    “Get Angry for the Right Reasons!”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-KtyvsI1Cg

  9. Mark

    A few thugs are ripping off Canadian taxpayers for pitiful off-season profit of $6 million, which cost $30 million in taxpayer money with boycotts of Canadian seafood totalling half a billion dollars. The year round seasonal income of the East Coast is mostly shellfish like snow crab. The weak excuse that sealers try to give of seals eating all the food fish is completely false. Because of the wanton and greedy offshore dragging by canadian trawlers, the hundreds of millions of cod, haddock, whiting & plaice and their nurseries were reduced to zero by 1992. Seals eat the PREDATORS of food fish like cod. The SEALS DIET IS ONLY 3% FOOD FISH including cod. Killing Seals actually increases the predators who eat more fish and reduce their numbers. LESS seals=Predator Explosion=less fish. Seals eat PREDATORS of cod such as Winter Skate, Sea Raven, Fourspot Flounder, Longhorn Sculpin, Silver Hake, Red hake, Goosefish, Northern Shortfin Squid, Spiny Dogfish & Cusk. That’s why after a decade of low seals the fish populations the DFO destroyed are still not coming back. Seals are now at less than 8% of their original numbers but when they were at 40 million, settlers commented they could “walk across the ocean on the backs of the cod” they were so abundant. Along with being hit by the bloody and cruel massacres, seal populations are dropping like a stone from ice loss due to global warming.. Just last year half the seal nurseries were lost.

  10. Mark

    The favorite argument seal killers use to dupe people is the whitecoat baby false info.. plenty of whitecoats are still poached by sealers. A seal molts from white coat to gray at 12 days to 2 weeks old. They’ll try to say that a seal magically becomes Not a baby at 13 days or 3 weeks old. Seals live 30 to 40 years, a human 60 to 80, so a 3 week old seal compares to a 6 week old baby. Even though it still can’t swim, seal killers say now it’s not a baby anymore. A scam to get away with killing them. babies.

    The reason Europe is moving on a total ban of the seal trade is that they were presented with 660 documented and filmed cases of cruelty in the last bloodbath, the taking of whitecoats, and widespread illegal sealer activities that the government ignored. Canada’s so called “fisheries” minister and other ministers that support this are corrupt and should be fired.

  11. Sheila

    Humans come up with every unforgivable excuse for their evil abuses, but those pitiful excuses never justify the cruelty. And baby seals ARE slaughtered, I’ve seen the footage, so there is no need to deny the truth.
    How many more sealers and their families will come here to defend this evil slaughter?
    Thank you, Alex, your article is appreciated.

  12. L

    Sofia; I wasn’t responding to your comment. I’m sure Marcel can defend himself, m’dear.

    Clearly, you believe that the preservation of culture is more important than the life of a living being, so why not simply say that and be done with it? Do you expect to drastically change the opinion of people who may be just as stubborn as you are, particularly on an environmentalist blog? We all have our biases.

    If you believe that the rest of us are irrational, what makes you think that reasoning with us will do any good? If the preservation of the Inuit culture is your main priority, then I hope that you’re actually enacting that goal in real life. Actions in fact do speak louder than words.

    Cheers.

  13. BEVERLY

    ITS ABOUT TIME ,THAT THIS KIND OF KILLINGS STOP,I HOPE AND PRAY EVERYDAY ,THAT THESE KILLINGS STOP!YOU DONT NEED TO WEAR FUR~BESIDES IT LOOKS MUCH BETTER ON THE ANIMAL,IF GOD WANTED US TO HAVE FUR LIKE ANIMALS THEN WE WOULD HAVE BEEN BORN WITH IT ,BUT WE WERNTT .THESE KILLINGS DO NOT NEED TO TO KEEP GOING,THE PPL,THAT KILL THSES POOR BABY HAVE NO RESPECT FOR THEMSELVES OR ANYTHING ELES ON THIS PLANET.YES THEY SAY ITS A JOB,WELL FIND A DIFFRENT JOB,STOP KILLING THESE SEALS!

  14. Rachel

    While I feel this will likely be a complete waste of time, I must also say something about the Inuit people or I am certain that omission will be immediately attacked.

    Sofia, your comments about the Inuit people do not relate to the content of Alex’s post. The European Union’s potential ban of all seal products would have no effect on the Inuit killing seals for food. I do not think the Inuit need to change their culture or traditional practices. But if they rely on non-Inuit populations to buy the pelts, they must be willing to accept that demand for products comes and goes.

  15. Rachel

    Ahh, yes, my “path of insult” is the thing to focus on here, right Sofia? I find it useless to try to persuade people to realize how shameful this hunt is. Either you are on one side or the other, and I have never found someone to change his/her position in an online post. Therefore my post focused on sharing my position and opinion. My disgust with supporters of this slaughter of young animals for their fur took precedent. However, let me add a little content so my post will be acceptable.

    I did not see the original picture that is causing so much grief. However, the picture of the adult seal on this post pulls at my emotional strings as much as a picture of a baby seal. As well, the DFO itself states that a seal need only be 12-14 days old to be killed. “Harp seals can be legally hunted once they have moulted their white coat, which occurs at about 12-14 days of age. However, they are not usually hunted until they reach the “beater” stage of development at around 25 days old.” Directly from the http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca page. 25 days old, when they can live for more than 20 years. That doesn’t sound like an adult to me. This is less than half of one percent of a seal’s life. But once again, I won’t convince someone like Sofia, so I’ll move on.

    Also directly from the DFO website: “The Marine Mammal Regulations stipulate that seals must be killed quickly using only high-powered rifles, shotguns firing slugs, clubs or hakapiks.” Watch the video clip on this site. Are the seals that must be hit 7-10 times killed quickly? Is the one that lays there coughing up blood? How about the one that thrashes around spraying blood everywhere while the sealer works on another seal directly in front of it? THIS pulls at my emotional strings.

    The reality of the hunt can be found anywhere. If the only information I ever found about the seal hunt came from the DFO website, I would still be revolted. If I had never seen video of seals being killed inhumanely, I would still oppose the cull. In the meantime, I think enough people around the world are becoming aware of the truth about the cull, and the consequences to the Canadian people are so very just.

  16. Sofia

    Nice; Rachel chooses the path of insult rather than content…enough said about her post.
    As to the above-mentioned devastation of Aboriginal economies – that is a reality (L; if you had done your homework/research on this issue pertaining to both Inuit and First Nations peoples, you would be aware of this).
    From what I can tell, the problem with this discussion is the Southern urban perspective has attempted to completely blot out the Northern/rural/Aboriginal perspective. So here is a bit of a lesson. Inuit, for example, who do predominantly live in economically depressed communities (at times this is an understatement) and do depend on food from the land (incl. seal) for up to 60% of their food intake. Changing to a fully store-bought food diet is neither realistic economically speaking (ie. cost of food, cost of shipping, income levels) nor appropriate taking into consideration location and nutritional requirements due to climate. This does not even take into consideration culture and traditional practices.
    Which will inevitably bring some of you to forward the statement that Inuit should change with the times (disband culture/traditional practices) and just move South to the cities if life is so hard up North – my response is that I would consider this a racist and colonialist statement. In addition to the logistical/health/social/housing issues that would arise (another understatement) as a result of having to relocate and integrate 40-50,000 Inuit into Southern cities (which will not and should never take place), I would also very seriously doubt that our government would like this at a point in time where Canadian sovereignty in the Canadian Arctic depends on an occupied/lived in Canadian Arctic region.

  17. Cherida

    Killing for food I can understand for as in icy regions vegetables and plants can’t survive but killing for fur is despicable. Whether the seal is an adult or a pup is irrelevant – killing a defenceless animal for its skin is just wrong.

  18. Rachel

    Alex, I’m sorry that idiots like Marcel and Sofia are the only ones who have commented thus far. Rest assured that there are decent people who believe that seals should not be killed for their fur, regardless of whether they are 1 day or 20 years old.

  19. L

    Just curious, Marcel; what are you doing to alleviate the so-called “devastation” of Aboriginal economies? Additionally, how are you enabling us to exploring new options?

    I doubt there’s much to earned through trolling blogs on the internet, but you may want to enlighten us.

    Cheers =)

  20. Marcel

    Hey, no problem with the traffic Alex, I’m always glad to send a few people to a page like this, especially after they’ve had a chance to look at the before and after screen shots I’ve got up at my place.

    I’m not the least bit opposed to exploring options, why not get them in place before you, and those like you, manage to create more hardship, and to further devastate, northern Aboriginal economies?

    Just out of curiosity, and because you did use the sea shepherd tag, how close are your views to those of the good Mr. Watson when it comes to Inuit hunters?

  21. Sofia

    And by offensive I mean that this post at times misrepresents the situation to such a degree that reality no longer has a close association with the subject at hand.

  22. Sofia

    I’m not sure you can consider the traffic to your post positive Alex.

    Rigorous research and actually coming up with alternatives as opposed to asking others to do the legwork for you might be a better approach. This post has numerous holes and makes it content wise not satisfying – in fact, it is at times offensive.

  23. Alex Felsinger

    They are very much considered. In fact, they’re even mentioned in the post. Along with a call to come up with alternative economies. Are you opposed to exploring other options?

    And thanks for generating some traffic to my post, by the way.

  24. Marcel

    Interesting that when you are called on it the image of an adult suddenly appears in it’s place.

    I have seen many similar marketing tactics, the video image of the baby white coat – the cut away – the image of blood on the ice – let the viewer come to what conclusion they may… unfortunately it’s all too common Alex.

    I suppose you could consider the hunt senseless if you consider the economic livelihoods of the hunters to be of little or no value, or if you consider the economic hardship that a ban on seal pelts would create for the Inuit people of Canada …. some of us think things like that are fairly important though – have you considered them?

  25. Sofia

    I hate to tell you this Alex, but you are deceiving people with this picture. Displaying an animal that is NOT hunted and is ILLEGAL to hunt instead of the anmials that ARE being hunted pulls on the emotional strings of people and triggers a reaction. A reaction that is not targeting the truth of the matter.

    And if you are going to say something such as ‘While it is illegal to kill the pups, many are still killed’, it might be nice to actually back this up with facts (not originating with IFAW or PETA who use similar tactics to yours).

    Oh, and they are killing the adult animals as the pups are protected. I’m not sure how this point continues to be missed.

  26. Alex Felsinger

    Marcel,

    It was the first image of a grey seal that I found. While it is illegal to kill the pups, many still are killed. If you think I am trying to deceive people, I can go ahead and find a different photo. But honestly — I don’t see how senselessly killing a baby animal is considered worse than killing a full-grown animal. I’ve never understood the logic. They’re both defenseless.

    -Alex

  27. Marcel

    Good deception guys. Show an image of a seal of an age that it is illegal to actually harvest as part of the commercial seal hunt, write your article, and, without actually saying that baby white coats are killed, hope that people think they are.

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