The Canadian government has approved a massive expansion in the allowable catch for harp seals in Canada to a maximum of 350,000 animals this year. While "whitecoat" harp seals (under 2 weeks old) are still protected as a result of actions by Greenpeace and other organisations in the 70s and 80s, and some of the more extreme animal rights abuses have been outlawed, older seals can still be legally hunted under Canadian law.
A Greenpeace activist sprays a seal with harmless dye to render its pelt worthless to commercial hunters in 1982. An EU ban on killing harp seals under 2 weeks old put an end to the commercial hunt for whitecoats -- but not to the killing of older seals.
This year's quota is the highest for any year since 1967.
Canada's cod fishery collapsed in the early 90s, and some in Canada
blamed the seals, despite the fact that the greatest culprit was
clearly decades of human overfishing. The collapse of fisheries
around Newfoundland due to mismanagement are a major driver in the
economics of expanding the seal hunt -- and part of an all too
predictable cycle of "exploit, deplete, and move on" which have
characterised human commercial hunts of wild animals the world
over. History has taught us that as soon as a market exists and
profits are to be made, the pressure to hunt a species beyond
sustainable population levels will inevitably lead to a
We oppose any human activity harmful to populations of seals. We
oppose the killing of seals for commercial trade. We oppose taking
animals from endangered, threatened or seriously reduced
populations, from populations whose status is unknown or where it
is thought a hunt may have an adverse effect.
When you add new uncertainties about how global warming is
impacting fragile arctic environments, an expanded hunt means the
impacts on seal populations are at best uncertain.
Greenpeace was part of a movement that first actively campaigned
against commercial Canadian sealing between 1976 and 1983. Since
that time, groups such as the International Fund for Animal
Welfare, and other organisations, have taken the lead in
campaigning against the slaughter of seals.
We support the efforts of the International Fund for Animal
Welfare and other organisations taking action against the
commercial hunt for harp and hooded seals.
Take action with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, where
you can sign the "Million Signature Petition." You can also write to
the Canadian Prime Minister via our action centre.