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Canadian Seal Slaughter
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Canadian Seal Slaughter

"The Canadian government insists that the seal hunt is an animal production industry like any other. They say that it might not be pretty, but basically it is just like any abattoir except on the ice. But we found obvious levels of suffering which would not be tolerated in any other animal industry in the world." ~ Ian Robinson, British Veterinarian

Seal hunting, or sealing, is the personal or commercial hunting of seals for their pelts, blubber, and meat. The hunt is practiced in five countries: Canada, where most of the world's seal hunting takes place, as well as Greenland, Namibia, Norway, and Russia.

Seal Hunting in Canada

With hundreds of thousands of seals clubbed and shot to death for their fur in most years, Canada's commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth. It is also the most brutal.

Each spring off the East Coast of Canada, hunters take their boats into dangerous waters or rush across moving ice pans in attempts to kill as many baby seals as possible in the short time available. Seal pups, most too young to escape, are either shot or hit with a spiked wooden club called a hakapik.

The seal hunt is effectively an effort by sealers to collect as many skins as possible. Sometimes as many as 150,000 seals are killed in two days. Under such conditions, humane killing isn’t a priority.

Some Facts about this inhumane practice

  • The majority of the sealers do not check to see if an animal was dead before skinning it.
  • In 40% of the kills a sealer had to strike the seal a second time, presumably because it was still conscious after the first blow or shot.
  • 42% of killed seals examined were found to have minimal or no fractures, suggesting a high probability that these seals were conscious when skinned.
  • It is a slaughter done mainly for unessential, vanity, and luxury items, and therefore, is unnecessary. It is unethical to slaughter newborn seal pups (About 95% of the seals to be slaughtered are babies less than four weeks old). Every time a mother is killed, the pup gradually dies out of starvation. So this means apart from the actual killings, there are indirect deaths occurring and those too of new born pups.
  • Polling consistently shows the overwhelming majority of Canadians oppose the seal slaughter and their tax dollars being used to promote it.
  • The seal hunt is an economically marginal activity and could easily be phased out. The Canadian government estimates between 5000 and 6000 Canadians derive some income from sealing. Notably, sealers are commercial fishermen who earn, on average, less than 5 percent of their annual incomes from killing seals—the remainder comes from fisheries.
  • Millions of dollars of taxpayers money is used to subsidize the sealing industry. A 2001 report by the Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment (CIBE) found over $20 million in government subsidies provided to the sealing industry over a seven year period 1995-2001. In recent years, the Canadian government has continued to subsidize the slaughter, providing millions of taxpayers dollars to the sealing industry.

Current Issues

  • Canadian government calls for the killing of 468,000 harp, hooded and grey seals despite dwindling markets and international outcry.

    Read more here.
  • Read IFAW's Blog for the latest news on the hunt.

    Read their blog

Tagged Photos

Most Noteworthy Organization

For more than 40 years IFAW has investigated the cruelty of commercial seal hunting and campaigned to end it. Victories include ending the commercial hunt for whitecoat seals in Canada in 1987 to the 2009 trade ban on seal products in the EU.  

Donate to IFAW.

What you can do

  • Boycott Canadian Seafood - We urge you to boycott all Canadian seafood as well as nutritional supplements made from seal oil and seal pelts.

    The following products, which are all omega-3 fatty acid capsules, are made from murdered baby seals:

    Terra Nova, Canomega, Omegavite

    These seal products are already ILLEGAL in the USA. International use, however, is possible, and if you're from outside the USA, you should be sure to AVOID them.

    There are many excellent alternatives to baby seal oil as a nutritional supplement: for instance, Flax seed oil, which is sold in capsule form and a liquid that can be added directly to food (sold in natural food stores, major groceries, and Walmart, as well).
  • Write to Politicians - Send a letter, e-mail, or fax to your local politicians and the Canadian government to demand an end to this atrocious slaughter of seals.

    To contact the Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, please send an e-mail message to: Min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca (dont forget to include your postal and e-mail address in the email!)
  • Write to Companies that sell seal fur products - Send a letter, e-mail, or fax to companies that sell products made from the fur and skin of seals slaughtered on the East coast of Canada and politely request that they make their fashion more compassionate by ending the use of seal fur.

    Here are some companies that sell these products:

    Birger Christensen
    Ostergade 38
    DK-1100 Copenhagen K Denmark
    Phone: 45 33 11 55 55
    Fax: 45 33 93 21 35
    Email: bc@birger-christensen.com

    Prada S.P.A.
    Via Andrea Maffei, 2
    20154 Milan, Italy
    Phone: 39 02 54 67 01

    Prada (U.S. office)
    Katherine Ross,
    V.P. of Communications
    610 W. 52nd St.
    New York, NY 10019
    Phone: 212 307 9300

    Official Website:

    Dolce & Gabbana
    Via Goldoni, 10,
    20129 Milano, Italy.
    Ph: +39 02 774271
    Fax: +39 02 76020600.

    685 Fifth Ave.
    New York, NY 10022
    Ph: 212-750-5220
    Email: clientservice-europe@gucci.it

    Donatella Versace
    Versace S.P.A. Headquarters
    Via Manzoni, 38
    Milan ITALY 20121
    Phone: 39 02 76 09 31
    Fax: 39 02 76 00 41 22

    Louis Vuitton
    Customer service in the United Kingdom: (44) 207 399 40 50
    Customer service in the U.S. 1.866.VUITTON

    In addition to writing to these companies, please also boycott these companies / fashion houses altogether, and encourage your friends and relatives also to do so!

    Stop Brutal Seal Clubbing and Torture

    Sponsored By: Tammy Wunsch

    Target: Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper

    Stop the Canadian Seal Hunt!

    Sponsored by: Ella (Save the Dolphin Smile); Hosted on thepetitionsite.com.

    Each year when the small harp seals start shedding their fuzzy white coats and ice conditions allow, anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 Canadian fishermen brutally club and skin hundreds of thousands of seal pups.

    Petition to end the brutal Canadian seal slaughter

    Sponsored By: Animals Australia

    Online Resources

    IFAW page on seal hunt

    An introduction to the Canadian Seal Hunt 

    Canadian Seal Slaughter (PETA)  

    2014 Canadian Seal Hunt exposed - youtube video by the HSUS 

    About the Canadian Seal Hunt - HSUS page 

    Myths and Facts about Canada's Seal Slaughter 

    Why commercial sealing is cruel (IFAW

    Canada's Shame: Help end Canada's baby seal slaughter (PETA) 

    End the Canadian seal hunt campaign by Seal Protection Action Group 

    Atlantic Canadian Anti-Sealing Coalition website 

    Seal Hunt FAQs - Animal Liberation Front 

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