Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

March 23, 2009 16:13 ET

Canadian Harp Seal Hunt Opens Today

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 23, 2009) - The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, welcomed the opening of the main commercial seal hunt for Magdalen Island sealers, following a meeting between the department and the industry on March 21.

"Sealing is a significant source of income in many small, isolated coastal communities throughout Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the North, and creates critical employment opportunities for processing plants, as well as fuel, food and equipment suppliers in coastal communities," said Minister Shea. "It represents as much as 35 per cent of a sealer's annual income and is important for thousands of families at a time of year when other fishing options are limited at best."

The total allowable catch for the harp seal hunt in 2009, announced Friday March 20th, has been set at 280,000 out of a herd of close to 5.6 million. The catch will be shared according to pre-existing arrangements between the Front (waters east of Newfoundland and Labrador) and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and is based on based on long-term conservation considerations and advice from scientists.

Minister Shea also repeated the Government of Canada's commitment to defend Canada's seal hunt, and the livelihoods that depend on it, while on the international stage.

"Our government will continue to defend the rights of Canadian sealers to provide a livelihood for their families through our humane, responsible and sustainable hunt," said Minister Shea. "While we are extremely disappointed that the European Parliament has called for a ban of the trade of seal products, our position remains that any ban on a humanely conducted hunt, such as Canada's, is completely without merit. We will continue to explore all legal and diplomatic options and we will exercise our rights to their fullest extent under international trade laws if and when it becomes necessary and appropriate."

For all the facts about Canada's seal hunt, visit

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Phil Jenkins
    Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Office of the Minister
    Ann Matejicka
    Director of Communications