Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

March 17, 2005 11:53 ET

Canada's Seal Hunt: Beyond the Rhetoric by Geoff Regan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans



MARCH 17, 2005 - 11:53 ET

Canada's Seal Hunt: Beyond the Rhetoric by Geoff
Regan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - March 17, 2005) - Like the fishery, the
annual seal hunt is an important industry and a time-honoured tradition
for people in Canada's coastal communities. Seals are a valuable natural
resource that provide income in remote towns and villages where few
other economic opportunities exist.

Unfortunately, this industry and its importance to thousands of
Canadians are often misunderstood and clouded by misleading rhetoric and
sensational images that tell a selective, biased, and often false story
about the seal hunt. The tragic result is that this industry, and the
people who rely on it for a living, are undeservedly cast in a negative
light by a few powerful organizations putting their own agendas ahead of
the truth.

As Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and a proud Atlantic
Canadian, I would like to set the record straight on Canada's seal hunt
and how it operates.

All Canadians need to understand that sealing is a legitimate,
sustainable activity based on sound conservation principles. The hunt is
conducted in a humane and tightly regulated manner. Canada's seal
population is healthy and abundant. Current estimates put the harp seal
herd - the most important seal herd for this industry - in excess of
five million animals, nearly triple what it was in the 1970s.

My department has strict conservation measures in place, and is
committed to the careful management of all seals to ensure strong,
healthy populations in the years to come. The seals hunted are
self-reliant, independent animals that must already have molted their
white coat before being hunted. They are no longer part of a family
unit. Hunting for harp (whitecoat) and hooded (blueback) seal pups is
strictly prohibited, as is the trade, sale or barter of the fur of these

To prevent inhumane treatment, seals are killed quickly and according to
strict regulations. Canada's seal-hunting methods have been studied and
approved by the Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing, which found that
the methods used in the seal hunt compare favourably to those used to
hunt other wild animals, and those used to slaughter domestic animals -
like cattle and poultry - for human consumption. In 2002, the Canadian
Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) issued a Special Report on Animal
Welfare and the Harp Seal Hunt in Atlantic Canada, which concluded that
virtually all harp seals - fully 98 per cent - are killed in a humane

The hunt is closely monitored and tightly regulated. Fishery Officers
conduct regular at-sea surveillance and dock-side checks to ensure that
the rules of the hunt are being followed, and that the hunting practices
being employed are humane and in accordance with the Marine Mammal
Regulations. Strict enforcement of the rules has been - and will
continue to be - a top priority for the seal hunt.

It is especially disturbing that some organizations are seeking to
damage a legitimate Canadian activity and Canada's reputation abroad in
public-relations campaigns in order to raise money for their

The sensational images and breathless rhetoric used to criticize this
industry amount to a slap in the face to the thousands of families who,
through the generations, have made their living from this resource. It
is a real disgrace to have such negative light being cast on the
Canadian men and women of this industry, and on the many proud coastal
communities that rely on the seal hunt for their very survival. Worse,
these carefully orchestrated public-relations campaigns twist the facts
of the seal hunt for the benefit of a few extremely powerful and
well-funded organizations.

I have the utmost respect for an individual's choice to support or
oppose the seal hunt, and I encourage everyone to form their opinions
based on the facts, not on sensational images and emotional rhetoric.
While I certainly do not expect every person to support this industry,
it is my hope that fair-minded Canadians will take the time to examine
the facts, and find out for themselves how Canada's seal hunt is
managed, monitored and enforced before making a final judgment.

For further information you can visit the following website:


Contact Information

    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Phil Jenkins
    Media Relations
    (613) 990-7537
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Sujata Raisinghani
    Press Secretary, Office of the Minister
    (613) 992-3474
    Internet :