International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

December 12, 2014 11:00 ET

Norway Axes Commercial Seal Hunt Subsidies

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 12, 2014) - According to media reports, the Norwegian government has announced it will stop subsidizing its commercial seal hunt with government handouts, citing economic priorities as the reason.

"Norway's conservative government seems to have realized that commercial sealing is an industry that can no longer be saved by subsidies. It makes sense that they would focus their economic priorities elsewhere," said Sheryl Fink, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Canada's Wildlife Campaigns.

Media are reporting that a majority of lawmakers voted late Thursday to delete a 12-million-kroner (1.3-million-euro, $1.6-million USD) subsidy for the seal hunt from the 2015 budget.

Norway, like Canada, has provided extensive economic support to its sealing industry for years - financing an industry that is no longer necessary. With its long list of priorities to balance for its people, and only three boats taking place in the Norway seal hunt in 2014, it is no surprise - and rather prudent - that the Norwegian government is examining its economic priorities.

IFAW thinks this makes sense, and hopes that the Canadian government follows the lead of Norway. Canada has provided support to Canadian sealers for decades, but the kinds of support it has provided were clearly ineffective. It's time to support an exit strategy for the industry.

"Commercial seal hunting isn't economically viable anywhere in the world," added Fink, "now that Norway has sensibly decided to removed its subsidies, we're calling on Canada to do the same."

Key Facts:

• Norwegian government subsidies have amounted to up to 80% of sealing industry revenue in Norway.

• Although the EU itself was a small market for seal products, the EU ban on the trade of products has global influence and it has resulted declines of global demand for seal products.

• There are 34 countries which now ban the trade in seal products, the 28 Member States of the EU, Russia, Kazakhstan Belarus, Mexico, USA and Taiwan.

• Over 98% of seals killed in commercial seal hunts are between 2 weeks and 3 months of age.

• IFAW does not, and has never, campaigned against the Inuit hunt, or the personal hunt of seals for food.

• According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), climate change is already having a negative impact on harp, ringed, and hooded seals. These three species are ice-dependent seals, which means that changing ice conditions are expected to result in increased mortality and other threats.

• The EU seal ban came into force on August 20, 2010 and applies to seal products of EU origin and to imported products.

EDITORS: High resolution images available at

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at

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