By: Melissa Cronin
The savage Canadian seal hunt has begun once again, as commercial hunters take to vessels to seek out young seals. The Canadian government allows 400,000 harp seal to be killed, despite court challenges in Europe and renewed backlash from animal advocates who say it is incredibly inhumane and ruthless. The hunt is carried out both for meat and for fur — though animal advocates contend that the fur industry fuels the majority of the demand.
According to Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of the Canadian wing of Humane Society International, 15 boats will participate in the hunt off the coast of Newfoundland. She noted to CTV News that the market for seal products is closed in the U.S., most of Europe and Russia, because of a World Trade Organization ban on the products. (There is an exemption for Inuit hunters.) Canada’s hunt survives mainly on government subsidies.
“From a market perspective, the seal hunt is very much over,” Aldworth said. “Markets around the world have closed … It’s an industry that’s limping along on credit and subsidies.”
The slaughter, which proponents argue is a tradition that dates back centuries in Inuit culture, targets seals that are about 3 to 4 months old for their meat but more so for their pelts. Many people argue that the approved method for killing — clubbing — is inhumane.
“It will never come back to previous levels,” said Sheryl Fink, wildlife campaigns director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “Europeans don’t want products from an inhumane, wasteful and unnecessary industry.”
The Humane Society is leading the charge against the hunt, calling on people to boycott Canadian seafood and seal products, and urge Prime Minister Harper to shut down the industry for good with a federal buyout. You can find out more about efforts to stop the hunt and how you can help here.