Seal: the massacres, killings and hunting of seals in Canada


The massacres of the seal

“There are about 30 species of seals, which generally live on the coasts of the polar and sub-polar regions of the planet or, in some cases, in some temperate areas. About fifteen of these species are hunted, for a total of 15-16 million specimens. Seal hunting it is practiced all year round, but the hunting season varies according to the region and the species. Canada, Greenland and Namibia account for approximately 60% of the 900,000 seals hunted each year. Other countries concerned include Iceland, Norway, Russia and the United States and, within the European Union, Sweden, Finland and the United Kingdom. "

Most of the hunted seals belong to five species:

  • Arctocephalus pusillus - Cape fur seal also known as South African fur seal and Australian fur seal (in Englishcape fur seals)
  • Pusa hispida- ringed seal (in English ringed seals)
  • Halichoerus grypus- alichero or gray seal (in English gray seals)
  • Cystophora cristata - crested seal or cap seal (in Englishhooded seals)
  • Phoca groenlandica - the greenland seal (in English harp seals)

(Cystophora cristata) - Note 1

It is mainly the species Phoca groenlandica - the greenland seal (in English harp seals) and the Cystophora cristata - crested seals or hooded seals to be hunted again pups.

The country that contributes the most to the seal slaughter is Canadawhich, for many years now, has been killing thousands of puppies. In 2007 the quota set by the Canadian government was 270,000 baby seals while for 2008 it was raised to 275,000 out of an estimated population (by the Canadian government) of about 5,500,000 seals, a quota considered "low" compared to the requests from the Canadian Sealers Association.

Commercial seal hunting in Canada was closed in 1984 but reopened in 1994 and continues to this day.

Since 2003, over 1.5 million baby seals have been killed and autopsies performed on many bodies have shown that many have been skinned alive.

Why is the seal killed? The reasons for the killing of baby seals are mainly for their furs and secondly for their genitals which are highly prized in Asian markets as they are considered aphrodisiacs. The rest of the animal is not used but left to rot on ice. Some make the seal oil sold as food but it is labeled "sea oil" so that consumers don't know what they are buying. Over 95% of seals killed are no more than three months old as their fur is more valuable.

About a third of the world trade in seal products either passes through or ends up in the European Union market and a good chunk ends up in Russia and China.

The Canadian government, in the face of countless protests over these massacres, said that the hunting technique has been improved, in order to make the kills more humane (!) that is to say: first give a blow to the head then check that the skull is smashed and then cut the arteries.

This "humane" technique was developed by a commission of independent veterinarians set up in 2005 to study the problem. Now, as seal hunting has become "responsible and sustainable", the protests and measures that have taken place make no sense. European Union intends to undertake in blocking the commercial traffic of seal derivatives!

At the G8 meeting in July 2008 the Canadian government has stated that Canada is unwilling to accept international restrictive measures relating to trade and trade in seal products.

Many environmental associations and many people of good will have and are working to try to block the trade to the destination countries of the skins and derivatives of seals in order to try to stop the slaughter of these animals. all unheard.

On 11 September 2008 the European Parliament with the favor of 424 deputies approved a written declaration in which a moratorium on the marketing of all products derived from seals (of the typical Canadian Arctic seal and the typical Russian crested Cistophorus) is approved, which should soon become a European law, ensuring same, that this measure has no effect on traditional hunting (eg that practiced by the Inuit for subsistence purposes). The European Commission has also asked the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) for a scientific opinion on the most appropriate way of killing to reduce unnecessary pain, distress and suffering. The group concluded, among other things, that seals are sentient mammals capable of feeling pain, distress, fear and other forms of suffering and that there is a need for monitoring of the seal hunt by a body independent of industrial and commercial interests. so that the hunt is open for inspection.

The Commission has therefore made the following proposal for a regulation: "prohibiting marketing within the European Union, importing into its territory or exporting products derived from seals. The proposal aims to ensure that products obtained from seals do not reach the European market from seals killed and skinned with cruelty, stress and suffering. The trade in these products can only be permitted if there are guarantees that the hunting techniques used respect high standards of animal welfare and that the animals do not suffer unnecessarily. "(full text )

Now, there is no doubt that this is a great step forward. However, it remains very uncertain whether this hunt can continue as the bill would allow exceptions to killings if they are done with "human criteria".

Robbie Marsland, British director IFaw (International Fund for Animal Welfare) in an interview with The, among other things, he states first and foremost that no one depends on the hunting closure system to earn a living. Hunting for baby seals is only 0.5% of GDP in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where about 90% of hunting takes place. The number of seal populations are declining due to the melting of the ice due to global warming. He further argues that the IFAW is not opposed to subsistence seal hunting as is the case among Inuit populations who hunt a very small number of seals that are almost exclusively Pusa hispida instead Phoca groenlandica is Cystophora cristata and that use the whole animal. Therefore, there is a significant difference between Inuit hunting and commercial hunting which is indirectly subsidized by the Canadian government by providing icebreakers and subsidizing delegation trips to Europe in the face of growing opposition to this hunt and the aired closing hypothesis. European markets for the sale of seal derivatives.

Note 2

However, the proposed ban allows for exemptions from hunting that meet certain criteria for killing seals. The IFAW reads' We are very concerned about this shortcoming, 'Mr Marsland said.' Only a total ban can prevent these large-scale and inherently cruel products from entering European markets. (..) The conditions make it impossible to properly control or apply the so-called methods of human killing ».

As a result of this measure, the prices of seal furs have already fallen on the international market by 60%: good news.

Countries that have already taken action against seal hunting I'm Belgium, Netherlands is Croatia which already provide for a total ban on the import of products derived from seals. There Germany and the Czech Republic legislative procedures have begun to ban seal products. The United States has banned its import since 1972. In Italy on 28 January 2010 the Italian Senate approved the Amendments to the law of 20 July 2004, n. 189, in application of regulation (EC) no. 1007/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 16 September 2009, which establishes the prohibition for Italy to trade seal products. A small step forward.

In Canada it is not possible to protest against this state of affairs, in fact, if you do not have special permits, it is not possible to speak or show images on what is happening under penalty of imprisonment and very high fines.

I point this out to you video made by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for which there are no words. supports their work and invites everyone to support them for having dedicated their lives to the defense of animals.

I close this article with this image because it is too full of blood, with a hope: that men will finally become human beings.

Dr. M.G. Davoli

Online bibliographic sources:

  • (en) Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (from which the photos were also taken - unless otherwise indicated)
  • (en) OIPA (International organization for the protection of animals)
  • (en) Canadian seal hunt
  • (en) IFaw (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
  • (en) EFSA (European Food Safety Authority)
  • (en - it) European Commission (EU European Commission)


  1. Original photograph courtesy Marine Mammal Stranding Center
  2. Original photograph courtesy Woods Hole Science Aquarium, NOAA Fisheries

Video: Canadian Seal Hunt Footage

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