CANADIAN SEAL HUNT
MYTHS AND REALITIES
Myth #1: The Canadian government allows sealers to kill whitecoat seals.
Reality: The image of the whitecoat harp seal
is used prominently by seal hunt opponents. This image gives the false
impression that vulnerable whitecoat pups are targeted by sealers during the
Myth #2: Seals are being skinned alive.
Reality: A 2002 independent veterinarians’
report published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal
and numerous reports mentioned by the Malouf Commission (1987) indicate that
this is not true.
Myth #3: The club – or hakapik – is a barbaric and inhumane tool that has no place in today’s world.
Reality: Hunting methods were studied by the
Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing in Canada and it found that the
clubbing of seals, when properly performed, is at least as humane as, and
often more humane than, the killing methods used in commercial
slaughterhouses, which are accepted by the majority of the public.
Myth #4: The Canadian government is allowing sealers to kill thousands of seals to help with the recovery of cod stocks.
Reality: Several factors have contributed to
the lack of recovery of Atlantic cod stocks, such as fishing effort, poor
growth and physical condition of the fish, and environmental changes.
Myth #5: The hunt is unsustainable and is endangering the harp seal population.
Reality: Since the 1960s, environmental groups
have been saying the seal hunt is unsustainable. In fact, the harp seal
population is healthy and abundant. The Northwest Atlantic harp seal
population is currently estimated at 5.5 million animals, nearly triple what
it was in the 1970s.
Myth #6: The seal hunt provides such low economic return for sealers that it is not an economically viable industry.
Reality: Seals are a significant source of income. For some individual sealers and for thousands of families in Eastern Canada at a time of year when other fishing options are limited at best, sealing can represent as much as 35 per cent of a sealer’s annual income in some coastal communities. Sealing also creates employment opportunities for buying and processing plants.
Myth #7: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) provides subsidies for the seal hunt.
Reality: DFO does not subsidize the seal hunt. Sealing is an economically viable industry. All subsidies ceased in 2001. Even before that time, any subsidies provided were for market and product development, including a meat subsidy, to encourage full use of the seal. In fact, government has provided much less subsidization to the sealing industry than recommended by the Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing.
Myth #8: The seal hunt is loosely monitored and DFO doesn’t punish illegal hunting activity or practices.
Reality: The seal hunt is closely monitored and
tightly regulated. Fishery Officers conduct surveillance of the hunt by
means of aerial patrols, surface (vessel) patrols, dockside inspections of
vessels at landing sites and inspections at buying and processing
Myth #9: The majority of Canadians are opposed to the seal hunt.
Reality: Animal rights groups currently campaigning against the seal hunt cite a 2004 Ipsos Reid poll stating that the majority of Canadians are opposed to the hunt. In fact, Canadians support federal policies regarding the seal hunt. An Ipsos-Reid survey conducted in February 2005 concluded that 60 per cent of Canadians are in favour of a responsible hunt.
For further information on Canada’s seal hunt, you can visit the
Last updated : 2008-02-22