Fisheries and Oceans Canada / Pêches et Océans Canada - Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada
News Release
DFO Media Room
Minister's Statements
News Releases
Minister's Column
DFO Home



December 18, 1995

OTTAWA-Brian Tobin, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans today announced management measures including a total allowable catch (TAC) of 250,000 for the 1996 Atlantic seal harvest.

"The Government of Canada is committed to a responsible and sustainable harvest of this abundant resource," said Mr. Tobin. "Given the latest scientific data on harp seal populations, the TAC of 250,000 is well within the replacement yield of 287,000 allowing continued growth in the population."

Collector vessels are being considered as platforms to assist the existing small vessel harvest. The vessels will allow safer harvesting in bad weather conditions. Landsmen would use collector vessels to collect, transport and prepare seals which they have harvested. A pilot project will be considered for 1996 and the federal government will assist in the planning of any effort to use vessels in this manner.

Efforts to secure new markets for a variety of seal products have met with some success. "We have expressions of interest from the sealing industry indicating that there are markets for these products in many countries," said Mr. Tobin.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans will continue to encourage maximum utilization of harvested seals through a $0.20 per pound meat subsidy. This assistance, in place until March 31, 1996, may be extended for the remainder of the season. Provinces are expected to continue their support as they have in previous years. In fact, Newfoundland has already indicated its support. Local residents will continue to have the opportunity to acquire licences to harvest seals for their own personal use.

"Seals are a valuable resource that should benefit Canadians who have traditionally relied on the sea for subsistence," said the Minister.

"The harvest will continue to be conducted in a humane and responsible manner in line with existing regulations," added Mr. Tobin. "The commercial and personal use harvest of whitecoats is still prohibited and we will not tolerate harvesting for only part of the carcass."

The 1994 harp seal population estimate put the population at 4.8 million and growing by about a quarter of a million per year. The herd has more than doubled in size in the last 15 years and is the largest seal population in the Northwest Atlantic.

"In the report I recently received from the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council, it once again expressed concern with ever increasing seal populations describing them as a significant constraint to the recovery of groundfish stocks," said Mr. Tobin.

A recent consumption analysis shows that harp seals ate an estimated 6.9 million tonnes of fish and other prey last year including 142,000 tonnes of Atlantic cod. Overall, this represents over one billion Atlantic cod eaten by harp seals.

To discuss management strategies to increase the seal harvest, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans convened two stakeholders' meetings this year. There was broad representation ranging from sealers, fishermen, processors, municipalities and provinces and a number of animal rights and conservation groups. The vast majority supported a sustainable harvest based on conservation principles.

Bonnie Mewdell, 
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans
(613) 992-3474

Last Updated : 2003-05-30

 Important Notices