International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

February 02, 2012 14:26 ET

IFAW Says Sealers Should not Pin Hopes on Conservative Government Support

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 2, 2012) - A "Day of the Seal" was arranged by Canada's Conservative government on Parliament Hill today, purportedly to show support for sealers, but according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) the government is falling short. The animal welfare group says that what is needed now is a clear transition plan to help sealers manage the inevitable failure of the industry.

"Over $30 million has been given in support to the sealing industry since it's revival in the late 1990s, and the industry is in worse shape than ever. Sealers don't need photos of MPs wearing fuzzy lapel pins, they need a transition plan from this dying industry" said Sheryl Fink, Director of IFAW's Seal Program.

Only 225 sealers and 50 vessels participated in the 2011 commercial hunt and the landed value was only $1 million. The European Union banned seal products in 2009, and Russia - said to receive 90% of Canada's seal fur exports - banned the import of harp seal skins in 2011. Canada's challenge of the European Union ban on seal products at the World Trade Organization is estimated to cost ten times the landed value of the seal hunt in 2011. Even if Canada wins the challenge, the ban will most likely remain in place.

"Photo opportunities on Parliament Hill will get politicians in the news, but they will not help sealers. Challenging the EU ban at the WTO will make trade lawyers rich, but it will not help sealers. And continuing to subsidize an economically unviable industry with no future will cost Canadian taxpayers, but it will not help sealers" continued Fink.

IFAW says that pinning hopes on new markets is futile. Global outcry against the commercial seal hunt continues and there is a growing opposition to seal products in China, a market which Canada has promised will save the beleaguered industry. Given the lack of demand for seal products, a far better move would be to end the dying sealing industry altogether, compensate sealers appropriately, and protect seals from the threats of climate change and commercial exploitation.

"Millions of people and country after country are saying no to seal products. It's time for Canadian politicians to pull their heads out of the sand and take real action to help sealers into the 21st century" said Fink.

For more information on the economics of Canada's commercial seal hunt, please refer to IFAW's report Economics of Canada's Commercial Seal Hunt - 2011 update here:

Contact Information

  • Michelle Cliffe, IFAW Global Communications Lead, Seals
    +1 647 986 4329
    Twitter: @MichelleCliffe or @IFAWCanada