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April 3, 2012

HSI/Canada Calls for Sealing Industry Buyout as Largest Seal Fur Processor Closes

Other seal fur buyers receive government financing to stockpile skins

Humane Society International

  • With the main global markets for Canadian seal products closing, it's time to end the commercial seal hunt. HSI

MONTREAL—In the wake of closures of multiple major markets for seal products, Canada’s largest seal fur buyer, NuTan, announced Thursday it would stop processing seals, and shift its operations to other products. In a shameful move, government financing is apparently now being provided to at least one other seal fur processor to buy seal skins.

"The world community has spoken and the international trade in seal products has come to a close," said Rebecca Aldworth, director of Canadian Wildlife Issues for The Humane Society of the United States.

She continued, "It is very encouraging to see NuTan’s owners shifting operations to other business. However, it is shameful that the government is now apparently financing other operations to buy seal furs, despite the lack of existing or future markets. With hundreds of thousands of seal furs reportedly stockpiled on the global market, there is no economic justification for sealers to kill seals or these companies to buy their products."

"The government should invest public money in a fair buyout of the Canadian sealing industry instead of turning the seal hunt into a glorified welfare program."

Canada's two largest trading partners, the United States and the European Union, have prohibited their trade in all products of commercial seal hunts. In 2011, the Russian Federation, Belarus, and Kazakhstan prohibited their trade in harp seal fur, the primary market for Canada's commercial seal hunt. Despite multiple trade missions by Canadian government and sealing industry representatives, China has not emerged as a major market for seal products, with local animal protection groups making it clear that China will not become a dumping ground for products the rest of the world has rejected.

In January 2012, Paul Boudreau of Tamasu, a company that sells dressed seal skins from Canada, stated that there are 400,000 seal skins in inventory on the global market. 

Facts

  • Through the 1980s and 1990s, about $30 million was provided in government subsidies to the Canadian sealing industry.
  • Millions of dollars of grants and interest-free loans were provided to companies in the 1990s to develop, market, and process seal products.
  • Despite the government investment, the sealing industry continues to exist at the Canadian taxpayers' expense, and against the will of the overwhelming majority of Canadians.
  • 2010 polling revealed half of Newfoundland sealers with an opinion support a sealing industry buyout—a plan in which sealers would receive immediate compensation as the hunt is ended, and funds would be invested in economic alternatives in the communities involved.

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