International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

March 27, 2015 08:00 ET

International Fund for Animal Welfare: DFO Covers Up Value of Products From the 2014 Commercial Seal Hunt

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 27, 2015) - In an unprecedented move, Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is refusing to release the quantity and landed value of products from the 2014 commercial seal hunt in what IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) believes to be a cover up.

In previous years, data on the quantity and value of meat, fat, and pelts landed at the commercial seal hunt has always been publicly available. But in response to a standard request on March 20, 2015 for this same information from the 2014 commercial seal hunt, DFO sent the following:

"To ensure that private or commercial information cannot be extracted the value data for the fishery will not be released. This measure is being taken to protect the privacy and economic interests of participants in the fishery."

IFAW questions why the DFO suddenly considers data from the publicly-funded commercial seal hunt to be private. The commercial sealing industry received over $5 million in public funds in 2013-2014.

"When Canadians' hard-earned tax dollars are being used to support the commercial seal hunt, it is the government's duty to be transparent about how that public money is used and what value it brings" said Sheryl Fink, Director of Wildlife Campaigns for IFAW Canada.

IFAW believes that one reason for the failure to disclose the information may be to cover-up the fact that very little seal meat from the commercial hunt is landed or used, despite a government policy on full utilization and the fact that the government has been funding efforts to develop seal meat for two decades.

The most recent funding was in December 2013, when Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced $500,000 towards a federal and provincial pilot project to develop seal meat products. However, data obtained through an earlier Access to Information request on the 2013 figures suggest that the meat is landed from fewer than 10% of the seals killed.

"Rather than acknowledge that two decades of efforts to develop seal meat have failed, it appears as if the government is now trying to cover it up. There is an unacceptable and astounding amount of waste in this hunt that completely flies in the face of conservation and a government policy of full utilization."

"In most other hunts for wildlife it is illegal to waste the meat of the animal. Conservationists all know it is wrong to kill a deer, moose, or bear and allow the meat to waste -- it's unconscionable. Yet seals are cruelly slaughtered, skinned and then over 90% is thrown back in the ocean or left to rot on the ice" added Fink.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans publicly releases annual statistics for all of Canada's commercial fisheries, including the commercial seal hunt, and has done so for decades. The value of the commercial seal hunt has been in decline since 2006, and public funds at the federal and provincial levels have been necessary to support the industry for the last 20 years.

"This government claims to stand for transparency and for fiscal responsibility, but actions speak louder than words and IFAW can only conclude that the DFO's refusal to release data means that the government is covering up the fact that tax dollars are being wasted to prop up a commercial seal hunt that is not viable," said Fink.

IFAW is calling on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to amend the Marine Mammal Regulations to require the landing of both the pelt and carcass of seals killed during the commercial seal hunt. This would bring the seal hunt in line with other wildlife hunts, and ensure that conservation principles of full utilization are being respected.

About IFAW

IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) was established in 1969 and its founding campaign was in opposition to Canada's commercial seal hunt. IFAW has more than 40 years of experience raising awareness, documenting and opposing the cruel commercial hunts for seals in Canada and around the world.

For more information on the campaign visit our website and follow us on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Note: High resolution images and video of seals being thrown overboard and left to rot on the ice are available upon request. IFAW's Sheryl Fink is available for comment. To request images, video or a media interview, contact, Michelle Cliffe, Communications Officer.

Contact Information

  • Michelle Cliffe
    Communications Officer
    IFAW Canada
    +1 647 986 4329
    Twitter: @IFAWCanada