Home | Site Map | Search   

Help | Donate | Resources | Boycott Canadian Seafood | Spread the Word | About the Seal Hunt | About Seals | News | Politics | About Us | Chinese




Get Seal Gear at the Harpseals.org E-Store


 Join the Harpseals.org Campaign




This Page
Quick Links

* Pelt prices keep sealers at home

* Newfoundland sealers staying home

* Northern Gulf hunt off to slow start

* No pelt processing - no deals on seal pelt sales

* Seal hunt makes its first 19,000 kills

* First leg of seal hunt reaches quota

* Sealing - in photos

* Weather delays seal hunt

* East Coast seal hunt opens

* Canada's seal hunt starts

* 200 grey seal pups killed

* Seal pelts hard to sell

* Economic downturn dries up seal pelt market

* Not a good time to be selling fur

* Sealing captain fines for using illegal weapons

* Sealers found guilty of violations

* New restrictions on hakapik use

* New DFO Minister: More sealing in 2009



Kids4Seals Web Site


Organize or Join

Organize or join events for seals


Seal Talk

Donate to Harpseals.org while you shop with Goodsearch/Goodshop


Harpseals.org on Twitter


Support Harpseals.org

Amazon Smile

When you shop at Smile.Amazon.Com
Amazon donates to Harpseals.org


Seal Hunt 2009 - Sealing and Pelt Trade


Pelt prices keep some sealers home

The Nor'wester

The annual seal hunt for this province has been ongoing for centuries, despite anti-sealing campaigns by animal rights groups and a possible ban on seal products by the European Union, and now the issue surrounds the price of the pelts.

"I'm not going this year," said seal hunter Ray Newman. "There's no profit. I figure we won't average no more than $13 a skin. It's over for me," he said.

Mr. Newman said for the high-end seal skins, buyers are only going to pay $14 a skin, a price that is not feasible, when factoring in operating costs. And that's why his boat the Lady Blanche will be docked during this year's seal hunt.

"You can't expect people to work for nothing," he said. There's no way you can make a buck off it. It is utterly impossible."

Mr. Newman said if prices continue to decline, only the "diehard" sealers will be the only ones on the ice flows. He said that since last year, prices have plummeted by $20 a pelt.

Even with a possible ban of Canadian seal products, depending on a vote that has already been delayed by the European Union, which is now scheduled for May 4 to 7, and seal pelts at their lowest price since the 1980s, Wilfred Bartlett, a sealer for 33 years said his 32 ft boat will not be tied up at the wharf this year.

"I'm going out more or less because it's a traditional thing with Newfoundlanders, especially those with small boats, they look forward to it every spring," said Mr. Bartlett.

"I'm not going out every day, I'm just going out for a trip. People love moose hunting, I killed one moose in my life and it don't mean a roll of beans to me, but when it comes to sealing or chasing a duck, that's my pastime," he said.

Because of some European countries' perceptions regarding the harp seal hunt and the global recession, Mr. Bartlett said he's unsure if he will sell more than the 20 pelts that he already has buyers for.

With all the clouds surrounding the future of the seal hunt, Mr. Bartlett said he's optimistic it will bounce back, but if it doesn't, there may be severe repercussions on the entire fishing industry.

"If it don't, to me, it will be the end of the fishery for all of Canada, because seals (population) is now exploding," he said.

"In 1976 when we had 2.2 million seals, you wouldn't see a seal until the middle of January, and now, you could to out in October month and see all kinds. They didn't cause the problem in the fishery, but right now, with fish stocks so low and so many seals, the fish will never come back until the seals are controlled."

The United States, Netherlands and Belgium have already instituted bans on Canadian seal products and if the European Union decides a similar outcome, there will be 27 members within the union closing its doors to the market.

According the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the current population of harp seals in Canada is an estimated 5.5 million, triple what it was in the early 1970s.

For 2009, the total allowable catch for harp seals is 280,000, 50,000 for grey seals and 8,200 for hooded seals, bringing it to a total of 338,200.

The federal department also indicates the annual hunt has socio-economic benefits to more than 6,000 sealers in rural communities across Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the North. Sealing can provide as much as 35 per cent of a sealer's annual income, which is approximately $25,000.

Federal officials estimate the value of the commercial hunt to be $13 million, but in 2006 because of good markets, the landed value of the harp seal hunt was $33 million.



Newfoundland's northeast coast sealers staying home

CBC News
Last Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 | 6:20 PM NT

This year's seal hunt off Newfoundland's northeast coast opened Wednesday, but very few boats are going out to what's known as the Front because of low prices.

Prices this year are expected to be $15 per pelt, less than half of what they were last year. As well, pelt buyers will commit to only buying less than a third of the quota.

Only a handful of boats are sealing this year where there would normally be hundreds. Eric Keats of Joe Batt's Arm said the situation with prices means he'll stay tied up to the wharf.

"More money in picking up cans by the side of the road than there is in sealing. Can't afford to go. Last year we killed a thousand seals … this year I figure if we killed a thousand seals we'd be lucky to break even," he said.

For the first time in almost 40 years, Twillingate sealer Jack Troake isn't going out this year.

"You can't make no money on that. It's impossible," he said.

Troake said he hopes this isn't the end of sealing, but he says it won't be far off unless something's done to counter the anti-sealing campaign.

Fisheries and Oceans set this year's harp seal quota at 280,000 for the entire hunt, including Newfoundland and Labrador — 5,000 more than last year.


Federal spokesman says seal hunt slow in northern Gulf of St. Lawrence print this article

The Truro Daily News
Last updated at 12:36 AM on 4/11/09

HALIFAX — A fisheries spokesman says a half dozen sealing vessels were active Friday in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence in a hunt that has been slowed by weather and ice.
Phil Jenkins of the federal Fisheries Department said a total of 458 seals have been taken since the northern Gulf hunt began Wednesday.
Freezing rain hampered the hunt earlier this week for boats working the lower north shore of Quebec and off western Newfoundland and Labrador.
Jenkins said Friday that many of the harbours along Quebec’s lower north shore also continued to be clogged with ice, making it hard for vessels to go out.
He said the hunt has a quota of about 64,000 seals.
Vessels taking part in the kill in the northern Gulf come from western Newfoundland, Labrador and Quebec.



No pelt processing; L'Anse au Clair seal plant won't operate

Northern Pen
Last updated at 11:11 PM on 04/05/09

Barry's Fisheries, which buys processed seals pelts, has yet to contract the Labrador Fishermen's Union Shrimp Company Limited (LFUSCL) for the job.

LFUSCL general manager Gilbert Linstead said in past years the buyer would have expressed interest by the end of March, a couple weeks before the annual seal hunt.

As of April 2, no deal has been reached, Mr. Linstead said.

"Usually every year we know at this time whether or not they're interested. Right now they haven't expressed any interest," he said.

"So far. I don't know what will happen tomorrow; but so far, they haven't. Usually what they'll do is give us an amount of what they're prepared to buy in this area, and this year they haven't given us an indication of any because there's so much on the world markets, on the uncertainty surrounding the vote on the ban."

Uncertain global markets and the upcoming European Union vote on a proposed seal products ban may cause apprehension among buyers in the province.

European Parliament has postponed the vote to a later date, likely the end of April or early May.

L'Anse au Clair Mayor Nath Moores said he's dubious the seal hunt will play out as in years past because buyers haven't decided what to do, compounded with the fact that Barry's, in particular, has pelts left over from last year.

In past years, the LFUSCL has used its seasonal plant at the L'Anse au Clair wharf to process the seal pelts.

Mr. Moores said possibly losing the contract will have an impact on the entire area.

"Seeing a major impact on L'Anse au Clair, the impact is going to be all over," he said.

Nearly 20 LFUSCL employees from along the Labrador coast work six to eight weeks processing the seal pelts.

"The employees are unionized shrimp company employees, so they get paid a decent wage, so it would be a boost if they got 10,000 or 20,000 seal pelts processed. But, at this point in time, Barry's haven't decided if they're going to buy either pelt this year. They got pelts left over from last they haven't got sold," Mr. Moores said.

He added, however, there is still time to get the work, since the seal hunt doesn't open until April 8.

"They did say that if they buy any pelts the shrimp company will be given a percentage of that quota."



Seal hunt 2009 makes its first 19,000 kills

Posted: March 26, 2009, 3:49 PM by Scott Maniquet
National Post, Canada

The first phase of Canada's annual seal hunt has just ended on Quebec's Magdalen Islands (see our story below).

The hunters bagged 19,411 seals to reach their quota. According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the total allowable catch for this season is 280,000 seals, out of a herd of close to 5.6 million.

While an official described the hunt as "calm and orderly," there were the usual cluster of protests around the world. Canada, Greenland and Norway are the only remaining countries with a commercial seal hunt.

For more information on the seal hunt, take a look at the Fisheries Canada website. It even has a small photo gallery with pictures considerably different from the ones below. (WARNING: Images are of a graphic nature, and are not pretty)

Sealer striking defenseless seal pup. Humane Society International/AFP/Getty Images

Sealer dragging seal to boat. S. Cook/IFAW/Reuters

Sealer throws seal skin into pile. Humane Society International/AFP/Getty Images

Injured seal pup looks back at path of blood on ice. S. Cook/IFAW/Reuters

Observers approach bloody carcass of seal pup on ice floe. Paul Darrow/Reuters

Bloody seal carcasses, left behind to eventually rot. Paul Darrow/Reuters



First leg of seal hunt reaches quota

Agence France-Presse Published: Thursday, March 26, 2009

A sealer stands with a dead seal hooked on his hakapik in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. S. Cook/IFAW Handout/Reuters

OTTAWA -- Sealers taking part in Canada's controversial yearly hunt have slaughtered some 19,411 seals so far this year, reaching their full kill-quota, fisheries officials said Thursday.

"It's been calm and orderly," said Phil Jenkins, a spokesman for Canada's fisheries and oceans department, describing the first leg of the annual commercial cull, which ended Wednesday.

Some 350 Canadian sealers in 20 vessels and on the shores of the Magdalen Islands have taken part in the annual seal kill.

Weather permitting, a small hunt of 1,500 animals around Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, will take place on Friday, Jenkins said.

Otherwise, the commercial hunt would resume next month off the west coast of Canada's island Newfoundland province and near Quebec's lower northshore, targeting some 63,000 seals.

Thereafter, the main hunt off the northeast coast of Newfoundland will kick off, said Jenkins. Some 188,600 seals are expected to be slaughtered during this phase.

Canada is home to the world's largest annual commercial seal hunt. Harp seals also are hunted commercially off the coasts of Greenland, Norway, the United States, Namibia, Britain, Finland and Sweden.

The seals are hunted mainly for their pelts, but also for meat and fat, which is used in beauty products.

The Canadian hunt has been fiercely criticized by animal rights groups, who say it is cruel.

The Canadian government countered that the 350-year-old hunt is crucial for some 6,000 North Atlantic fisherman who rely on the seal hunt for up to 35 percent of their total annual income.

In April, the European parliament is to vote on a proposed prohibition on seal products that would ban products derived from seals from being imported, exported or even transported across the 27-member bloc.

The measure still has to be approved by EU governments before it can be implemented.

Ottawa has said it would fight any curbs on the international trade of seal products.



Week in Photos

National Geographic

Photograph by Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press via AP

Iles de la Madeleine, Quebec, March 25, 2009--A hunter runs toward a harp seal near Quebec's Iles de la Madeleine during Canada's controversial annual seal hunt.

The federal government set a quota of 338,200 seals for the 2009 hunt, an uptick of 5,000 compared with 2008.

In Paris on Thursday, animal rights activists protested the hunt, distributing flyers and brandishing Canada's maple leaf flaIles de la Madeleine, Quebec, March 25, 2009--A hunter runs toward a harp seal near Quebec's Iles de la Madeleine during Canada's controversial annual seal hunt.

The federal government set a quota of 338,200 seals for the 2009 hunt, an uptick of 5,000 compared with 2008.

In Paris on Thursday, animal rights activists protested the hunt, distributing flyers and brandishing Canada's maple leaf flags printed with the word "shame," the Associated Press reported.gs printed with the word "shame," the Associated Press reported.



Weather delays seal hunt

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 | 7:19 AM AT
CBC News

Fog in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has delayed seal hunting for up to 48 Maritime sealers who were due to join the hunt Tuesday.

The hunt began Monday for those in Îles de la Madaleines, and opened for Maritime sealers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Tuesday.

The total quota for sealers from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. is 1,700 seals. Some sealers expect prices for harp seal pelts to be low this year, at around $20 to $30 each.

Close to half of the licenced Maritime sealers, 22, are from P.E.I., but it's not clear if any of them will join the hunt.

Before fishermen go out they must submit a harvesting plan to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, but only one Islander has done that. There is so much ice surrounding P.E.I. that if sealer does go out he'll likely have to leave from Cape Breton.

Sixteen journalists and representatives of anti-sealing organizations have been issued observer permits. Weather conditions Monday made it difficult to get many observer helicopters into the air.

This year's hunt starts as the European Parliament prepares to debate a motion to ban the importation of seal pelts.



East Coast seal hunt opens

Published Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The Canadian Press

Hunting season: Hunters gather pelts as the annual East Coast seal hunt starts in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence around Quebec's Iles de la Madeleine on Monday. The federal Fisheries Department has set a quota of 280,000 harp seals for this year's hunt on the East Coast, an increase of 35,000 over last year. (c) Canadian Press 2009

CAP-AUX-MEULES, Que. - The East Coast seal hunt got underway Monday on the ice floes in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence around Quebec's Iles de la Madeleine, although weather hindered the efforts of anti-hunt observers.

About 20 sealing vessels from the islands ventured out to sea, said Phil Jenkins, a spokesman for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Jenkins said wind conditions had pushed some of the ice against the shore, meaning part of the seal herd could be reached by hunters on land.

"If the wind does turn around it'll push that particular herd that's up against the islands off into the gulf more, and probably disperse them a bit," he said.

Jenkins said federal officials had issued 16 observer permits to journalists and anti-sealing organizations.

Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International Canada, said the landlocked ice has made it difficult for some young seals to escape hunters.

"We saw baby seals they had just killed and hauled their bodies across the ice," Aldworth said. "A few weeks ago, they were still nursing from their mothers. It's hard to take."

Cape Breton sealer Robert Courtney, president of the North of Smokey Fishermen's Association, was preparing his boat for the hunt Monday afternoon in North Sydney.

He said he knows what to expect from the protesters.

"I imagine they'll be out, same as last year, creating controversy and trying to raise money for their cause," said Courtney, whose crew will head to the Gulf of St. Lawrence as soon as the weather moves the ice out to sea.

Courtney said his quota for this year is about 1,700 seals, up from 1,399 last year.

"It's competitive," Courtney told the Cape Breton Post. "There's 140 sealers in Nova Scotia, about 20-odd in P.E.I. and a few in New Brunswick, and everybody will be eligible to go."

Aldworth said the weather Monday made it difficult to get to the coastal ice floes where the seals were being hunted.

"There was freezing rain, freezing fog and very low visibility. It made for some difficult flying, but we have amazing pilots," she said. "Our role is to be the eyes of the world."

Jenkins said the combination of weather and ice conditions would determine the length of a hunt, which could take from a few days to several weeks to complete.

He later confirmed that it was looking increasingly likely the forecast would delay the start of today's hunt in the gulf by sealers from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Officials with the International Fund for Animal Welfare confirmed gusting winds and poor visibility made it difficult or impossible to get observer helicopters near the hunt.



Canada's controversial seal hunt starts

The Associated Press
Monday, March 23, 2009

TORONTO: Canadian officials defended the start of the annual seal hunt Monday as a financial necessity for isolated communities, as sealers faced pressure from a possible European Union ban.

Animal rights groups say the hunt is cruel, difficult to monitor and ravages the seal population. But sealers and Canada's Fisheries Department says the hunt is sustainable and humane, and earns money for isolated fishing communities in Atlantic Canada.

"The picture that has been painted in people's minds is that we have small white coat baby seals that are being clubbed over the head and skinned while they are alive. It's just so not true," Gail Shea, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

"Now the population in Europe has bought into this and it has spilled over to the political arena and the politicians are trying to respond to their electorate. There's emotion and politics and they are missing facts."

The world's largest marine mammal hunt was called "inherently inhumane" earlier this month by a European Parliament committee that endorsed the bill to ban the import of seal products to the 27-member union.

The hunt exported around $5.5 million worth of seal products such as pelts, meat, and oils to the EU in 2006. Germany imported about $1.6 million in seal products in 2006 but many EU countries don't import any, Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesman Phil Jenkins said.

Jenkins said it's important to keep some European ports open, where many seal products stop on their way to other destinations. Fishermen sell seal pelts mostly for the fashion industry in Norway, Russia and China, as well as blubber for oil.

Canadian politicians lobbied intensely to try to convince the European committee that the hunt is humane. The bill must be approved by the entire EU assembly and EU governments to become law, a move that could come as early as next month.

Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International Canada, lauded a potential ban, and said it should prompt Canada to end the hunt altogether.

"It's clear to me that change is in the air," she said.

EU legal experts say the ban could violate world trade rules, and Canada has warned it could challenge a ban before the World Trade Organization.

The EU bill does grant an exemption to Canada's indigenous Inuit to continue to trade seal products for cultural, educational or ceremonial purposes.

Registered hunters in Canada are forbidden from killing seal pups that haven't molted their downy white fur, which typically happens when they are 10 to 21 days old.

Shea said her department wouldn't be able to control the seal population of about 5.6 million without the hunt.

"I've talked to plenty of people in the East Coast who will tell you that seals are in places that they've never been before. They're abundant and they are eating fish," he said.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesman Phil Jenkins said about 20 sealing vessels ventured out into the ice floes in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence on Monday, while some land-based hunting is also under way.

The hunt has overwhelming political support in Canada. Earlier this year, Sen. Mac Harb introduced an anti-sealing bill, but he couldn't find a colleague in the 105-seat Senate willing to second his motion to send it to debate.

The pressure on the hunt is growing. The United States has banned Canadian seal products since 1972. The Netherlands and Belgium also ban seal products, and Russia announced earlier this month it would ban the hunting of baby seals.

The European Union already outlaws the sale of the white pelts of baby seals. Seals are also hunted in Namibia, Sweden, Finland and Russia.


Seal hunt goes ahead off Cape Breton
New buyer found, 200 seals killed at Hay Island

Tue. Feb 17 - 6:54 PM

Sealers have killed 200 grey seals on a tiny island off Cape Breton, a week after their buyer unexpectedly backed out of taking any pelts, putting the controversial hunt in limbo.

A group of hunters took to Hay Island on Monday for the first time since the spit of land officially opened for a commercial hunt two weeks ago.

Gus van Helvoort, a spokesman for the federal Fisheries Department, said Tuesday the sealers notified federal officials they had found another buyer in Newfoundland for about 200 seals.

There were no hunters on the island Tuesday and it was unclear whether they would return.

This year's hunt looked uncertain after sealers were told their original buyer's plant in Newfoundland was undergoing renovations and could not take any pelts.

Sealer Robert Courtney of Dingwall, in northern Cape Breton, said securing a different buyer was welcome news even though the number of pelts requested was low.

``It's not what we wanted but it's better than nothing,'' he said.

Hay Island, which has a quota of 2,200 seals, will be closed to seal hunting in mid-March.

Van Helvoort said Monday's hunt was monitored by fisheries officers and an official from the Natural Resources Department.

Bridget Curran of the Atlantic Canadian Anti-Sealing Coalition said she was upset her group, which monitors the hunt, wasn't notified that sealers were on the island.

``It just shows a total lack of transparency on DFO's part,'' she said. ``As licensed observers, we have a right to be there to monitor and document the kill.''

The hunt has sparked controversy among environmentalists and anti-sealers who argue the province doesn't have the right to permit the hunt in a wilderness area that's protected under provincial law.

The province insists it's well within its rights to allow the hunt and is doing so partly in hopes of helping dwindling groundfish stocks in the region.



Seal pelts hard to sell

By LAURA FRASER Cape Breton Bureau
Thu. Feb 12 - 5:53 AM

Robert Courtney says he’s still hopeful he will find a buyer before the window for this year’s seal hunt on Hay Island off Cape Breton closes Feb. 28.

The hunt was first delayed by poor weather and then by the news that the buyer for the 30 sealers could not take the pelts, Mr. Courtney said.

"We have been trying to see if there are any other buyers around, but we haven’t had any other offers at this stage," he said Wednesday.

When asked about reports that his buyer had struggled to sell to Norwegian markets, Mr. Courtney said he had not heard that. He said he had been told that a plant in Newfoundland and Labrador is in the middle of renovations and cannot process the pelts.

A representative of the federal Fisheries Department said extending the season would not help the sealers.

"It’s a moot point, because by Feb. 28 the animals will have returned to the water," said Gus van Helvoort, the director of fisheries and aquaculture management. "They’re just at the point right now where they can be harvested, and their coats are in the right condition."

Although 30 licences were granted, only 20 sealers can be on the island at one time, Mr. van Helvoort said.

A total of 2,220 seals can be taken during the hunt. The value of that catch could range from $40,000 to $80,000, Mr. Courtney said.

Each person would end up with only a couple thousand dollars. But Mr. Courtney said it’s money that fishermen could use after the downturn in the lobster industry last year.

Sealers were allowed to hunt on Hay Island for the first time last winter. The small island is part of a protected wilderness range located about two kilometres off Main-a-Dieu. The province allowed the cull last year to protect fish stocks around the Scatarie Island wilderness area.

The hunt attracted the ire of several environmental activist groups last year, at least one of which took video footage of the sealers.

Rebecca Aldworth of the Humane Society International Canada returned to Hay Island on Wednesday.

"It was wonderful to get images of live seals this year who would otherwise have been targeted," she said.

Ms. Aldworth said she expects it will only become more difficult to sell seal pelts, especially as the European Union considers new regulations about the trade.

"Markets around the world are closing for seal products," she said.

( lfraser@herald.ca)



Economic downturn dries up seal pelt market

Wed. Feb 11 - 5:29 AM

A seal hunt off Cape Breton has begun, but so far no animals have been killed.

A spokesman for the federal Fisheries Department says no hunters have actually gone out yet even though the hunt for grey seals began last weekend on Hunt Island.

Scott Cantin says the global economic downturn is affecting the market for seal pelts.

About 30 people have licences to kill about 2,200 seals and they have until Feb. 28 before the hunt ends.

Rebecca Aldworth of the Human Society International Canada says the shrinking market for seal pelts is a sign of things to come.

Aldworth told the CBC that soon licences "won’t be worth the paper they’re written on."

She urges sealers to press for a buyout of their licences "and get compensated fairly."

The Canadian Press



'Not a good time to be selling fur': Atlantic sealers

Sealer striking seal - Paul Darrow - Reuters
A sealer uses a hakapik to strike the final blow to a harp seal off the coast of Newfoundland in April, 2008.'I don’t know what’s going to happen with the market. . . . Even the buyers will tell you right now they don’t have an idea what the price is going to be for the harps. But they are saying now is not a good time to be in the fur market.'
Photograph by: Paul Darrow, Reuters

By Ken Meaney, Canwest News Service
February 10, 2009

OTTAWA — The dismal world economy may be hanging like a club over Canada’s seal hunt, an economic lifeline for thousands of Atlantic Canadians but an activity that has also spawned groups determined to shut it down.

Robert Courtney, of Dingwall, N.S., should be hunting in Nova Scotia’s small Hay Island hunt right now.

Instead, his crew, the only hunters permitted to go to the protected wildlife area for the 2,000-animal hunt, haven’t taken any seals. Their boat is tied up in Main a Dieu, N.S., becalmed by lack of markets for seal pelts.

“Fur is a luxury item and people are not running out to buy fur coats,” Courtney said Tuesday, adding it will be a $60,000 loss for his 25-man crew if they don’t find a buyer in the three weeks remaining in the hunt.

He blames the economy, and he worries what he’s seeing now could be repeated on a larger scale when the Gulf harp seal hunt opens in March.

“It’s not a good time to be selling fur and there is a lot of pelts in inventory from the harp seal hunt last year,” he said.

In 2008, Courtney, who took part in both the Hay Island and Gulf hunts, got $22 per grey seal pelt and $33 per harp — less than the year before. He worries the lack of demand this year will mean even lower prices.

“Once you go down below $15, it’s getting pretty (low),” he said. “At $10, you wouldn’t be able to break even.”

Jamie Baker of Newfoundland’s Fish, Food and Allied Workers union, many of whose members are sealers, said they haven’t seen any indication that prices will plunge this year.

“All efforts are being made to see the markets shape up,” he said.

But the animal rights group Humane Society International doesn’t think that’s going to happen.

“It’s clear that the markets are closing and the world is not prepared to buy the products, or the cruelty, anymore,” said Rebecca Aldworth, adding it’s time for the federal government to buy out the industry. “I think the writing is on the wall for the commercial seal hunt in Canada.”

Back in Main a Dieu, Courtney pauses when asked what he thinks he’ll get for harps this year.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with the market. . . . Even the buyers will tell you right now they don’t have an idea what the price is going to be for the harps. But they are saying now is not a good time to be in the fur market.”

With files from Global News
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service



Sealing captain fined for using illegal weapons

The Canadian Press

February 7, 2009

St. John's -- Urging sealers to hunt humanely, a Newfoundland judge has fined a sealing captain $2,000 for using unauthorized weapons during the hunt two years ago.

Ashley Gould, 27, of Anchor Point, Nfld., was hunting with his crew in April of 2007, when protesters videotaped them using gaffs or a shovel with a hook to club seals, then load them on their boat while still alive.

In addition to being fined, Mr. Gould is prohibited from participating in the first day of this year's seal hunt, the day when the bulk of a sealer's quota is typically caught.



10 found guilty of illegal sealing

Julie Smyth, National Post Published: Friday, January 30, 2009

A blueback seal pup. 'Blueback' is the name for young hooded seal pups who have not yet molted.

A case that has dragged on for nearly 13 years, making it one of the longest running legal disputes in Canadian history, has ended with 10 men being convicted of illegal sealing practices. The men were found guilty of selling blueback seal pelts in March 1996, despite their lawyer's attempt to prove entrapment by fisheries officials. An eleventh sealer was found not guilty and his case was dismissed.

The sealers were part of a larger group of 101 men charged with violating sealing hunt regulations after a search warrant was issued at a seal plant. The majority of the 101 men were convicted or entered a guilty plea years ago but 11 decided to hang on and fight the charges.

It is believed to be the longest such case in Canada but finally ended last week when, in a written decision, Newfoundland Judge Wayne Gorman threw out the defence claims of government entrapment. The defence had claimed the men were led to believe they could kill and sell the bluebacks without fear of prosecution. Blueback seals, also known in the industry as hopper hoods, are seals that have not yet molted their blue coats.

During the trial, Mark Small, one of the men convicted, showed up in Corner Brook court wearing a sealskin coat his wife gave him for Christmas. He told the court that Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials inspected his boat four times and never mentioned the blueback seals. He also said he had help from a government inspector locating the seals.




Ottawa moves to restrict hakapik club in sealing

Updated Sat. Dec. 27 2008 7:02 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Sealer drags seal onto boat - Jonathan Hayward - Canadian Press
A seal hunter drags a harp seal along the ice to his boat in the Gulf of St. Lawrence Saturday March 25, 2006. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward)

Ottawa says it wants to make sealing more humane by restricting how hunters use the controversial hakapik club. The government faces pressure from the European Union, which has threatened to ban imports of Canadian seal products next year.

The hakapik is a spiked club first developed by Norwegians and is designed to deliver a lethal blow to the animal. But critics say the tool is a symbol of the cruelty of the hunt.

On Saturday, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans released a report on amending the Marine Mammal Regulations (MMR).

The amendments "are proposed to provide for a more acceptable humane method of harvesting seals," says the executive summary of the proposed regulations.

"The proposal would modify the three-step process (stunning, checking, and bleeding the seals) to prohibit the use of a hakapik or club for seals over one year old, to require sealers to verify death only through palpation of the skull and to require the animal to be bled for one minute prior to skinning."

It's believed most sealers already use rifles to slaughter seals. But last April,

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams called for an outright ban of the hakapik.

More than 70 per cent of the seals are killed off the north coast of the province.

However, many hunters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence favour the hakapik because they work in close proximity to one another, so rifles would be too dangerous.

The European Union has proposed a ban on seal products from countries that "practice cruel methods" -- that could include bludgeoning seals with a hakapik.

Rebecca Aldworth, spokesperson for Humane Society International, told CTV Newsnet on Saturday that the move to ban the hakapik was "a cynical and cosmestic gesture by the federal government to cover up the cruelty of the commercial seal hunt in the wake of the European Union ban on seal product trade."

Sealer Jack Troake, of Twillingate, N.L., told The Canadian Press that most seal hunters use a rifle to hunt their prey rather than a hakapik.

"We're trying to appease the protest movement (with the new regulations)," he said Saturday.

"We've been doing this for years."

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said the new restrictions would ensure sealers are still able to make a living, by ensuring Canada would not come under any EU ban.

"Implementing the proposal would help to maintain market access for an industry with a present export value of ($13 million)," says the document.

"The proposal makes it possible to maintain an important economic activity for the coastal people of Canada," it adds. "It would also align itself with the latest veterinary advice and recommendations, requests of the European Union, and concerns from animal welfare groups."

The DFO report also estimates how much it would cost to implement the proposed restrictions: $1.8 million to $3.6 million. That amount would include increased costs to sealers and local coast guard crews.

Along with preventing hunters from using the hakapik as the primary tool to kill seals, the restrictions would also clarify the process of harvesting. The three-step process includes stunning the seal, confirming its death and bleeding the animal.

To ensure sealers follow the guidelines in 2009, the DFO says it would use helicopter-mounted cameras to film the hunt. Actual enforcement would be carried out by coast guard officials aboard icebreaker vessels.

Aldworth said "the overwhelming majority of Canadians want the seal hunt to be ended."

"So, if we're going to invest public resources in the seal hunt, it should be in ending the seal hunt and finding constructive solutions for the communities that are impacted by ending that hunt," she said.

With files from The Canadian Press



Canadian seal hunt will continue as usual

The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland: Canada's new fisheries minister said Wednesday she expects next year's commercial seal hunt will proceed as usual, despite a European Union proposal that threatens to ban seal products as early as 2009.

Gail Shea said she's upset the EU proposed legislation in July that could prohibit the import of Canadian seal pelts and other products.

The European Commission's proposed ban on importing seal products targets countries that "practice cruel hunting methods", and focuses on Canada because of claims by anti-hunt campaigners that it is the cruelest. Canadian seal hunters use spiked clubs or hakapiks and rifles to kill seals.

Shea said she doesn't plan to implement new regulations such as banning the hakapik, a hunting tool that some say conjures up a bloody image of the hunt.

Rebecca Aldworth, a spokeswoman for the Canadian branch of the Humane Society of the United States, disagreed with Shea that the hunt would proceed next year much as it has done so in the past.

"I think in a way it's avoiding the issue. This is obviously a fisheries minister who doesn't want to change the status quo," Aldworth said. "The problem is that the environment around the seal hunt is very much changing."

Canada has the largest marine mammal slaughter in the world, with the totally allowable catch hovering between 270,000 and 335,000 seals annually in the past three years.

An import ban could deliver a devastating blow to Atlantic Canadian fishermen who rely on the annual hunt as a source of income.

Activists believe the hunt is cruel, poorly monitored and provides little economic benefit.

The United States banned Canadian seal products in 1972. Several European Union nations, such as the Netherlands and Belgium, prohibit all seal products.

Canada's largest markets for seal products, such as Russia, China and Norway, are outside the EU. But sealing industry experts fear a ban would curb the demand for sealskins from the fashion industry and disrupt shipping routes.

The EU's proposed ban would only allow the import of seal products from countries that can guarantee their hunting practices are "consistent with high animal-welfare standards" and that the animals are killed without undue suffering. Special exemptions would also be allowed for Canada's Inuit community.

The European Parliament and the EU's 27 member countries are aiming to have a first reading of the proposed seal ban in March, just when the hunt is expected to resume. The measure needs the approval of all EU member states to succeed.




copyright Harpseals.org 2000-2018 All rights reserved