Fisheries and Oceans Canada / Pêches et Océans Canada - Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada
Fisheries and Aquaculture Management

Seals and Sealing in Canada


1990s - present

  • 2003 - It is made mandatory that a blinking eye reflex test be performed in order to ensure that the seal is dead. In addition, sealers must land the pelt and/or carcass of any seal taken
  • 1996 - Due to a return in market demand and plentiful resource, the hunt becomes more significant and higher quotas are permitted.
  • 1993 - The Marine Mammal Regulations are adopted.

    - As the hunt moves towards taking older, more developed seals, an amendment is made to the regulations to ensure proper gauge ammunition is being used.

    - More stringent rules are put in place governing the means and tools to quickly render the animal unconscious.
  • 1992 - The first seal hunt management plan is created.


  • 1989 - Conditions of licence are used to apply the policy to prohibit the commercial hunt of whitecoat and blueback seals, and the use of large vessels to hunt seals.
  • 1987 - In accordance with the Malouf Commission, a policy is adopted to prohibit both the hunt of whitecoat and blueback seals for commercial purposes, and the use of vessels larger than 65 feet.
  • 1986 - The Malouf Commission Report is released which establishes future policy on the management of the hunt.
  • 1985 - To minimize physical and psychological distress, regulations specify the means and tools to quickly render the animal unconscious and to verify that it is dead before being handled and transported.


  • 1978 - An amendment is made to the regulations to allow the use of hakapiks in the Gulf, because this tool is proven effective and humane.

    - A clear definition of a dead seal is outlined in the regulations.

    - An amendment is made to the allowable size of a club to make it more efficient and humane.
  • 1977 - In an effort to keep order and good management on the ice, observer permits are required by all who wish to view the hunt.
  • 1974 - The first quotas are set for hooded seals.
  • 1972 - A ban on the use of gaffs (pole with large hook on the end) to kill seals is further assurance that the hunt is being conducted in a humane manner.

    - A precise regulation on size and weight requirements for clubs and hakapiks ensures that the animal is killed in a swift, humane fashion.
  • 1971 - All vessels greater than 35 feet must be licensed.

    - The first harp seal quota of 245,000 animals is established.

    - The Committee on Seals and Sealing (COSS) is created, an independent advisory committee which made recommendations until the 1990s to DFO regarding many aspects of the seal hunt.


  • 1968 - In an effort to conduct a safe and fair hunt, the use of aircraft for hunting seals is prohibited.
  • 1966 - A ban on adult seal hunting in whelping patches ensures the survival of pups.
  • 1965 - The regulations give clear definition to humane killing.

    - The Gulf of St. Lawrence is considered national waters and is closed to foreign vessels for seal hunting.

    - A ban is placed on hooded seal-hunting in the Gulf of St. Lawrence due to the low number of hooded seals in this area.

    - It becomes mandatory for all hunters to obtain and carry a seal hunting licence.

    - A ban is placed on the use of longlines in the seal harvest because this method is not considered to be humane.

    - As a strong measure to control quotas and humane killing, fishery officers are placed aboard all vessels greater than 65 ft. in length.

    - In-port inspections are conducted by dockside monitors on a regular basis to validate landings data and ensure compliance with quota restrictions.
  • 1964 - The first set of Seal Protection Regulations is established.





Last updated : 2007-03-27

Important Notices