Canada resumes bloody seal slaughter despite crashing demand for seal products

By on April 12, 2019 with 11 Comments

Canada this week once again turned its peaceful ice floes into an open-air slaughterhouse, with the reopening of the annual commercial seal hunt. Sealers are expected to club and shoot tens of thousands of harp seal pups in coming weeks, despite the fact that more than 37 countries have banned the commercial seal product trade and demand and prices for seal fur are down globally.

According to data made available by the Canadian government, 2,382 seals had been killed by end of day Thursday, within three days of the hunt opening. Approximately 11,600 seals were killed over the same period last year, and the smaller number could be an effect of a continuing decline in prices and demand for seal fur.

More than 98 percent of the seals killed will be under three months of age. According to the Canadian government, young harp seals provide the most valuable pelts and market demand is generally stronger for this type of pelt. After the animal has been killed and skinned, the carcasses are usually abandoned at sea.

Our Humane Society International/Canada team has documented this slaughter for 12 years and members of our team, led by HSI/Canada Executive Director Rebecca Aldworth, have watched the horrors unfold, despite the heartbreak they personally endured. We have done this because we want to keep the world’s attention focused on this cruel spectacle, and build the case globally for ending it altogether.

The suffering the seal pups endure is immense. Sealers shoot at moving seal pups located on moving sea ice from moving vessels, from long distances and in adverse weather conditions. Often, the seals are not killed by the first bullet. They can suffer for several minutes or longer while sealing vessels maneuver through the sea ice to retrieve them. Wounded seals are frequently hooked onto vessels and clubbed to death on deck.

Often, sealers will club seals directly on the ice and it can take multiple strikes for the seal to become unconscious. Any wounded seals who manage to escape into the open water will only die a slow, excruciating death.

It is the most gruesome spectacle one can imagine, but there is hope. Because of the work done by the Humane Society of the United States and HSI, and our partners around the world, the United States, Mexico, the 28 countries of the European Union, the five countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, Taiwan, Switzerland and India have all banned trade in seal skins and other products of commercial seal hunts for animal welfare or conservation reasons. As a result, prices for seal fur have declined by 74 percent and 90 percent of licensed sealers now refuse to participate in the slaughter because it is no longer profitable. This means that although tens of thousands of seals pups will tragically die this year, hundreds of thousands more will not.

Some industry advocates are beginning to push back, however, with Carino, the top seal processor in Canada, announcing this week that the industry is seeking even more government handouts (on top of the tens of millions of tax dollars it has already received). This time, acknowledging there is little future in marketing seal fur, they want to research and market seal meat and oil so the industry can diversify. This makes no sense because there is no demand for these products and past attempts to market them have failed miserably.

There are also proposals from commercial sealing groups to open a massive commercial hunt for tens of thousands of seals and sea lions in British Columbia, another to slaughter seals in a provincial nature reserve and yet another to lift remaining restrictions on commercial sealing licenses.

Our HSI/Canada staff is on the job to fight these proposals as they come up. Years ago, we made a promise to the seals: that we would never stop until peace had been restored to the ice floes. There are many challenges ahead this year. But with your support we will remain vigilant as ever and continue to push toward the day when there are no more commercial seal hunts.

Protect baby seals from cruelty

Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Lisa says:


  2. Peter Hood says:

    Canada would listen to US consumers who follow through on boycotting their exported products.

    Among the simplest things to do would be for US consumers to specify that they would not purchase a car, for example, originating from Canada. Or, as an example, ensure the next time one goes to the “Home Center” for wood products, ensure that they are not of Canadian origin. This wouldn’t be too hard.

    • mini mojo says:

      Are you kidding? Stop buying from Canada? What in the world do you think is so humane about living here in the US and they way we treat animals. Oh wait, I mean children? The ones we have in cages at our border? Next to the holocaust, this is the worst inhuman AMERICAN action in our lifetime. And believe me, it will be historically documented while we sit here and refuse to buy goods from Canada. This is not a national issue. Its a faulty humane issue. Lets just say, oh I don’t know, not vote for a president against humanity and the rest of the natural environments existing in America. Hopefully Canadians can vote for someone who stops this atrocious HUMAN BEHAVIOR!

  3. maria eugenia garcia says:



    • Aleksei Mawdsley says:

      First of all, Canada does not have a prime minister. Second of all, he can’t do anything about it because THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH DOES NOT MAKE THE LAWS. If you want to make a real difference then send a letter to your local representative, if you do not live in Canada then send your letter to a prominent one. But I do agree with you, yes, seals should not be hunted and brutally killed by hunters. Even if the population of seals are still doing fine .

  4. Maria toque moncivais says:

    Killing 😍 seals and stop it now!

  5. Suraiya says:

    Canada government, stop it this killing🙏

  6. Lea Derence says:

    Don’t support any form of animal cruelty. Join the vegan movement.

    Visit to find vegan and vegan friendly restaurants. And, like these Facebook pages to get delicious vegan recipes: Bosh, Gloriously Vegan, Exceedingly Vegan, Chocolate Covered Katie, So Vegan, Vegan Huggs, The Buddhist Chef, and Vegan Richa.

  7. Linda L Begovich says:

    What is wrong with these people? How can anyone be so cruel as to slaughter seals especially baby seals. I guess it’s for the money which is an evil way to earn it. Get a normal job that doesn’t involve killing animals. Shame on you CANADA for not enforcing a ban on Seal Trade. I really am appalled that Canada still allows this. Disgusting……….. Please publish this.

  8. Nelly PRESTAT says:


  9. Joyce Wendler says:

    HSUS has done so very much to end cruelty to precious animals in this world. The seal cruelty work has done a LOT in these twelve years. I hope the officials in Canada will soon outlaw this horrible act in Canada.

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