MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwired - Dec. 6, 2013) - An announcement by Keith Hutchings, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Newfoundland and Labrador, and Gail Shea, federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, that nearly half a million dollars of government subsidies will be provided to the commercial sealing industry, flies in the face of Canadian opposition to the seal slaughter.

Humane Society International/Canada's executive director Rebecca Aldworth said:

"Most Canadians oppose the seal slaughter and the use of public money to support commercial sealing. Yet our government feels it appropriate to pour millions of tax dollars each year into the economic sinkhole that is the commercial sealing industry. This is particularly shameful in light of the recent cuts to life saving search and rescue operations within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

"Markets for seal products are closing, not opening, and the recent World Trade Organization ruling confirms that. The writing is on the wall - the sealing industry is dead. It is high time our government invested in a one-time sealing industry buyout instead of wasting our tax dollars in a futile attempt to artificially prop up this cruel, outdated slaughter."


  • With more than 2 million seals killed since 2002 alone, Canada's commercial seal slaughter is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth.
  • Veterinary experts have found that commercial sealing is inherently inhumane and should be ended (Butterworth and Richardson, 2013).
  • Because most Canadians oppose commercial sealing, the sealing industry relies almost exclusively on export markets to sell its products. Global markets for seal products are closing fast. In 2009, the European Union joined the United States, Mexico and Croatia in prohibiting trade in products of commercial seal hunts. In 2011, the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus prohibited trade in harp seal fur and, in 2013 Taiwan ended its trade in all marine mammal products (including seal products).
  • More than $40 million has been provided in subsidies to the commercial sealing industry since the 1980s. Polling shows more than two thirds (68 percent) of Canadians oppose their tax dollars being used to support the commercial sealing industry (Environics Research, 2011).
  • 77 percent of Canadians believe seals under one year of age should be protected (Environics Research, 2010). Furthermore, 72 percent of Newfoundlanders believe seals under three months of age should be protected (Ipsos Reid, 2011). An overwhelming 98 percent of seals killed in the commercial seal hunt are less than three months old.
  • Half of Newfoundland sealers support a sealing industry buyout - a plan in which fishermen would be compensated for lost income as the seal hunt ends and funds invested in economic alternatives (Ipsos Reid, 2010) and the majority of Newfoundlanders support a buyout if sealers want it (Ipsos Reid, 2011). Finally, 84 percent of Canadians support a transition program for sealers (Environics Research, 2011).

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International-one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than eleven million members and constituents globally-on the Web at

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Christopher Pare