Seal Hunt FAQs

Baby SealQ. How many seals are killed during the Canadian commercial seal hunt?

A. Just over 205,000 seals were killed in 2008, bringing the total number of seals killed in the last three years to almost one million.

Q. Do sealers kill baby seals?

A. Yes. The Canadian government permits killing seal pups when they are about 12 days old or shortly after they shed their white baby fur. In 2006, 98 percent of harp seals killed were under three months old. Many of these gentle babies have not even eaten their first solid food or learned how to swim before they are killed.

Q. Is the hunt really cruel?

A. Yes. Most sealers shoot or bludgeon seals with wooden clubs and “hakapiks” (clubs with a metal hook on the end). These young pups often have their skulls smashed in right in front of their mothers, and sometimes they are even skinned alive.

Q. Who kills the seals?

A. Non-native fishers kill seals in the off-season along Canada’s East Coast. A small fraction of their annual income comes from sealing, and the rest comes from commercial fishing, yet the hunt continues.

Q. Isn’t the hunt a tradition?

A. No. Sealing is not a livelihood of the Inuit. It is an off-season profit-making venture for a handful of big-business fishing companies.

Q. Are seals responsible for the decrease in cod populations?

A. No. Overfishing and greed are responsible for the decline in fish numbers. Biologists report that cod accounts for a tiny fraction of the seals’ diet.

Q. Does the seal hunt contribute significantly to Canada’s economy?

A. No. Even in Newfoundland, where 90 percent of sealers live, revenues from the hunt account for less than one percent of the province’s economy. The seal hunt adds up to about one-twentieth of a fisher’s annual income.

Q. Why does the seal hunt continue?

A. Although the sale of sealskins has been banned in the United States and much of Europe, new markets for sealskins have opened up in Russia and China. It’s all about greed, and that’s why it is essential to let the Canadian government know that the hunt must stop now!