According to the Associated Press, the Canadian seal hunt ended with a record low number of kills. For animal rights groups who have protested the hunt, this year is a big deal. The quota set by the government allowed for 273,000 seals to be caught but between Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, only about 70,000 seals were taken by the close of the hunt on June 16.
A total of 30 countries have already banned the sale of seal products, including 10 of Canada’s top export markets. Earlier this year, Russia announced a ban on the hunting of seals less than one year of age. Since those young seals were the primary target, this ban effectively ended Russia’s commercial harp seal hunt. The European Parliament passed a ban on the trade of all seal products to the European Union in May, but it still needs the backing of the EU governments. It is expected to come into effect in October of this year.
The hunters blame the low numbers on plummeting prices for pelts and the impending EU ban on seal products. Pelts used to sell for about $100 each. Now, the market price is only about $12. This low price, paired with 60,000 pelts left over from last year, makes it difficult for fishermen to make any money off this years hunt. Last year, 900 boats with roughly 4,000 sealers took part in the hunt and this year less than 500 vessels with only 1,000 sealers took part.
Robbie Marsland, the UK Director of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said “the lack of demand for seal products this year means that over 200,000 baby seal pups have been spared a cruel and unnecessary death.”
Copyright © 2009 by Marine Science Today, a publication of OceanLines LLC