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Sens. Levin and Collins: The Commercial Slaughter of Seals Should End

The Humane Society of the United States

With Canada's annual slaughter of hundreds of thousands of baby seals underway, Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Wednesday introduced a resolution urging the Canadian government to end the commercial seal hunt.

"The ProtectSeals team is currently in Canada witnessing the largest slaughter of marine mammals in the world," said John W. Grandy, Ph.D., senior vice president of The Humane Society of the United States. "The images we have captured over the past few days are just heart wrenching. The once bright white ice floes are now stained with blood and littered with baby seal carcasses. We thank Senators Levin and Collins for their efforts to bring this inhumane slaughter to an end."

International opinion, as well as the opinion of the vast majority of Canadian citizens, is overwhelmingly in favor of ending the Canadian seal kill. Earlier this month, Russia announced a ban on slaughtering seals less than 1 year old.

The resolution, S. 84, also notes that more than one million seals have been killed during the past five years and that in the last five years, 95 percent of the seals killed were between 12 days and 12 weeks of age, many of them too young to have eaten their first solid meal or taken their first swim. 

Video from the 2009 kill is available here.

Facts about Canada's Commercial Seal Hunt:

  • Canada's commercial seal hunt is the world's largest slaughter of marine mammals, with more than 1 million seals killed in the past four years.
  • Each year, suffering is documented at the commercial seal hunt, including seals cut open while responding to pain, conscious seals impaled on steel spikes and dragged across the ice floes, and wounded seals left to suffer.
  • Veterinary experts say the commercial seal hunt is inherently inhumane because of the physical environment in which the seal hunt operates and the speed at which it must be conducted.
  • Ninety-seven percent of the seals killed in the commercial seal hunt are less than 3 months old at the time of slaughter. Many have yet to take their first swim or eat their first solid meal when they are killed.
  • Sealers are commercial fishermen, who earn on average less than 5 percent of their incomes from killing seals — the remainder from fisheries including crab, shrimp and lobster.
  • In 2008, the landed value of the seal hunt in Canada was less than $7 million.
  • Canada exports nearly two-thirds of its seafood to the United States producing $2.5 billion annually for the Canadian economy.
  • In 2005, The Humane Society of the United States launched a boycott of Canadian seafood products as a means of pressuring the Canadian fishing industry and government to stop the seal hunt.
  • Since the ProtectSeals seafood boycott was launched, more than 600,000 individuals and more than 5,000 grocery stores and restaurants have pledged to avoid some or all Canadian seafood until the commercial seal hunt is ended for good.
  • In recent years, 10 countries have either banned their trade in seal products or announced their intentions to do so. The European Union is currently considering a prohibition on seal product trade.
  • Nigel Barker, noted photographer and judge from "America's Next Top Model," is a spokesperson for the campaign. Barker accompanied HSUS staff to the ice floes this past spring to photograph the seal nursery and document the hunt.

For more information about the campaign to save Canadian seals, please visit humanesociety.org/protectseals.


The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.