March of 2005 marked the beginning of the annual massacre of hundreds of thousands of Canadian baby seals, all done with the consent and encouragement of the Canadian government, despite the fact that the hunt is inhumane and scientifically unjustifiable. 

This practice has been going on for over half a century; however, in 2003, the Canadian government established a quota of 975,000 seals to be killed over three years, with a quota not to exceed 350,000 seals killed in a single year.  What happens if the hunters exceed the quota?  History tells us the quota will be raised for the following years.  During the 2001-2002 seal hunt, sealers killed at least 30,000 more seals than allowed by the law.  However, instead of punishing the sealers, the Canadian government raised the quota to allow for more seal killings.  In 2003, 286,238 seals were killed, while in 2002, 307,000 seals were murdered, marking the largest slaughter of marine animals on Canadian shore since the 1960s. 

Baby harp and hooded seals are the main targets of the seal hunt, which takes place in the waters east of Newfoundland and Labrador beginning in March of every year.  Ninety-five percent of the seals murdered are less than three weeks old.  The baby seals are most “ripe” for the massacre at two weeks of age—right as they have molted their white fur.  They are killed for their pelts, their penises (which are used to make aphrodisiacs in Asian markets), oil and meat, which are exported to all regions of the world.  To deflect criticism, the Canadian government claims the seals eat too many cod and must be killed to sustain Canada’s fishing industry.  However, research reveals that seals only eat a small portion of cod, and in fact also eat other cod predators.  The Canadian government is using seals as a scapegoat instead of addressing the serious problem of over-fishing and lack of conservation.  More importantly, the seals should not be massacred simply to cover up the incompetence of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The Canadian government also erroneously contends based on faulty science that the seal herds are “healthy and abundant” and “at a level where there are no conservation concerns.”  However, Canadian scientists only count the population once every five years, meaning that any declines in seal population could take up to fifteen years to be detected.  Canadian scientists also fail to consider that seals are also threatened by global warming.  Moreover, methods used to monitor the population counts and quota system fail to take account of the thousands of seals that are injured and die later, seals that are illegally hunted, those that are killed and then discarded due to pelt damage, and seals that are killed for their organs and thus not included in the pelt count.   

Witnesses reveal that the seal hunt is a gruesome sight—hunters take to the ice like cavemen, wielding clubs and a big ice pick called a hakapik.  The white snow and ice becomes covered with blood as the baby seals are clubbed to death, and often skinned alive right in front of their mothers.  Veterinarians have estimated that as many of 40% of seals killed during previous hunts were skinned while alive and conscious.  Even though this barbaric method of killing is overtly inhumane and fails to comply with Canada’s basic animal welfare regulations, the Canadian government continues to encourage this massacre by subsidizing the sealing industry and failing to enforce animal welfare regulations.  Reports from the Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment revealed that $20 million in subsidies were provided to the sealing industry between 1995 and 2001. 
Despite protests throughout the world since 1955, the Canadian government has refused to stop or even reduce this massive killing.  Although peaceful demonstrations and letters to government officials are an effective means of protesting, the most persuasive way to send the message to the Canadian government that the world will not tolerate this inhumane slaughter is to hit them where it hurts—the pocket book.  Simply refuse to financially reward the Canadian fishing and sealing industries—boycott Canadian seafood, and most importantly, do not buy products made from seal pelts. 
Please contact your Senators and urge them to support Senator Carl Levin’s (D-MI) Senate Resolution 33 condemning Canada’s seal hunt.  Florida Senator Bill Nelson is a co-sponsor of this bill.  You can also write to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Canadian Ambassador Frank McKenna, and Canada’s Tourism Commission.

Prime Minister's Office
Right Honorable Paul Martin
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington St. Ottawa
Ontario, Canada K1A OA2

The Honourable Frank McKenna
Office of the Ambassador
Canadian Embassy
501 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001

Canadian Tourism Commission
55 Metcalfe St.
Suite 600
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1P 6L5

For more information on this barbaric atrocity and advice on what you can do to help,

Visit for a running total of how many seals have been murdered to date and to sign a petition boycotting Canadian seafood.