Canadian sealers kill at record speed
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2004:
MONTREAL–Authorized by Ottawa to kill 350,000 harp seals in
2004, Atlantic Canadian offshore sealers killed so aggressively that
the Department of Fisheries & Oceans on April 14 closed the
large-vessel hunt only 48 hours after it started, suspecting that
the large-vessel quota of 246,900 had already been reached.
Again this year, as in each of the past five years,
International Fund for Animal Welfare observers led by Newfoundland
native Rebecca Aldworth obtained extensive video of sealers skinning
seal pups who were still thrashing and dragging live seals on hooks.
Again this year DFO denied that the writhing seals were still alive.
Sealers and DFO spokespersons boasted of rising global demand
for seal pelts, reportedly wholesaling at about $50 Canadian apiece.
But the evidence was ambiguous–and $50 in Canadian money has only
about half the buying power today that it had more than 20 years ago,
when seal pelt prices last were in that range.
“The landed value of last year’s seal hunt accounted for less
than one tenth of 1% of Newfoundland economy, nowhere near the
figures claimed by the sealing industry,” IFAW president Fred
O’Regan wrote to The New York Times. “Lasting solutions to the
economic challenges facing Atlantic Canada require more than
subsidizing the slaughter of nearly a million seals in the next three
Belgium banned the import of seal pelts. The Italian
parliamentary committee for foreign affairs passed a resolution
against the Canadian seal hunt. Forty-seven prominent Mexican
writers and artists organized by Group of 100 founder and novelist
Homero Aridjis issued a joint statement called the seal hunt “one of
the most systematic and cruel exterminations of animals ever
authorized by a ‘civilized’ government.”
The quotas set by other sealing nations were magnitudes
lower. Finn sealers were allowed to kill 395 grey seals, up from
230 in 2003. Swedish sealers were allowed to kill 170, the same as
in 2003. The Baltic grey seal population is believed to be about
In Scotland, however, Western Isles Fisherman’s Association
spokesperson Duncan Macinnes told the Scottish Executive that Canada
has “The right approach. The seal colony on the Monach Islands off
North Uist has increased from 6,000 to 30,000 in the last 30 years,
and is eating 75,000 metric tons of fish annually,” Macinnes charged.
Public opinion in Great Britain and Scotland has been opposed
to sealing for decades, but Ian Herbert, Genevieve Roberts, and
Roland Hancock of The Independent reported on April 17 that British
seal fur brokers imported as many as 6,000 seal pelts from Canada in
2003, apparently for reseale to garment makers in Russia, Saudi
Arabia, South Korea, Italy, and Greece.