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* Who buys the pelts?

* Who sells seal skin garments?

* Who processes seal skins?

* Seal fur smuggling?

* How much are the skins worth?

* Conclusions

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Seal pelts. Who buys them and how are they used?

seal fur coatAlthough the European whitecoat seal pelt import ban enacted in 1983 had a dramatic effect on the seal pelt market, the market began to grow in the 1990's thanks to efforts by the Canadian government. The victims? Baby seals just grown out of their whitecoat stage. Ninety five percent of the seals killed in the Canadian seal hunt are between 12 days and 4 months old.

In 2006, Mexico banned seal (and all marine mammal) product imports. In 2009, the European Union extended the ban on imports of pelts from the youngest seals to include pelts and other products (such as oil) from all seals. In 2011, the Russian Federation banned seal product imports. In 2012, Taiwan banned seal product imports. Read more about these successes here.

Imports of seal products have been illegal in the U.S. since 1972, with the passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

 

Who buys the pelts?

The following information is from Industry Canada. The figures are raw seal skin exports in Canadian dollars. Note: After 2006, Canada eliminated the category "raw seal skins" in published statistics in favor of "raw skins - not elsewhere specified", thus including skins from other animals as well. A ploy to keep the real information about the seal 'hunt' hidden from the world?

This information pre-dates most of the national bans on seal product imports.

The import figures for Norway do not reflect the final destination of the pelts.

  2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Norway   3,046,648 5,998,388 6,858,225 6,761,996 10,042,654
Finland     300 509,888 1,912,936 2,964,716
Germany 86,270   11,390 1,117,775 255,288 2,091,143
Hong Kong   155   80,521 380,388 125,105
China   28,510 207,933 734,942   931,452
Turkey         62,556  
Russia       21,397 30,365  
Denmark 389,953 749,155 562,625 148,130 11,285 222,556
Greenland       2,108,421 4,000,000  
Greece 53 6,799   36,463   14,529
South Korea     29,981 17,713   2,486
Kazakhstan         496  
Italy 76,454          
France       32,400    
Poland   236,866 421,500      
Ukraine     24,367      
Taiwan     410      
Estonia   245,737        
Japan   11,434        
Mexico         13  
All Countries - Total 552,630 4,325,304 7,256,894 11,665,875 13,415,213 16,394,641

 

Which companies sell finished seal fur coats, accessories, and trinkets?

Berger Christensen seal fur coat
Berger Christensen harp seal fur coat

The following international fashion companies have sold seal skin products at one time or another. Contact them to find out whether their newest collections have them. Let them know that you oppose the use of seal skins and will boycott ALL their products until they stop supporting the seal slaughter.

There are smaller Canadian companies that still make fur products from seal skins.

Birger Christensen
Ostergade 38
DK-1100 Copenhagen K Denmark
Phone: 45 33 11 55 55
Fax: 45 33 93 21 35
bc@birger-christensen.com
Makes and sells harp seal fur garments. In their store, they also sell harp seal fur garments made by Prada and Dolce & Gabbana.

Prada
Prada S.P.A.
Via Andrea Maffei, 2
20154 Milan, Italy
Phone: 39 02 54 67 01

Prada (U.S. office)
Katherine Ross, V.P. of Communications
610 W. 52nd St.
New York, NY 10019
Phone: 212 307 9300

Dolce & Gabbana
Via Goldoni, 10,
20129 Milano, Italy.
+39 02 774271
Fax +39 02 76020600.

Gucci
685 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10022
212-750-5220
clientservice-europe@gucci.it
Has said that it won't use seal skins anymore (continues to use other animals' skins)

Versace
Donatella Versace
Versace S.P.A. Headquarters
Via Manzoni, 38
Milan ITALY 20121
Phone: 39 02 76 09 31
Fax: 39 02 76 00 41 22

Louis Vuitton
Customer service in the United Kingdom: (44) 207 399 40 50
Customer service in the U.S. 1.866.VUITTON

 

Who processes the pelts and how?

Stacked harp seal pelts - photo James McLoed - The Telegram
Stacked harp seal pelts undergoing processing. Photo by James McLoed, The Telegram

There were only two major processing companies. NuTan Furs, formerly known as Atlantic Marine Products ( PO Box 39, Main St., Catalina, NL, Canada A0C 1J0, Tel: (709) 469-2849, Fax: (709) 469-3211), was one of the two main companies until 2012. At this time, the company officially shut its doors, but may have actually merged with or been acquired by Carino (see below). Former executives: Chris Pilgrim. Sales manager: Martin Duchesne, 709-785-7387, aag819@thezone.net; Plant manager: Dean Russell, 709-469-2849, cell 709-468-6347).

Atlantic Marine Products was a subsidiary of the Barry Group (one of the largest seafood companies in Atlantic Canada). NuTan Furs / Atlantic Marine Products sold over 100,000 pelts each year. They were capable of processing up to about 150,000 pelts in their Catalina, Newfoundland plant.

G.C. RieberAnother processor, now the primary harp seal skin processor, is Carino Company Ltd., (P.O. Box 6146, St. John's, NL,Canada A1C 5X8, Tel: (709) 582-2100, Fax: (709) 582-2487, Contact: John Kearley). It is owned by a Norwegian corporation, G.C. Rieber and Co., has a plant in a sealing town called South Dildo, Newfoundland.

The plant is located in a small industrial complex next to a fish processing plant. There, employees make great efforts to maintain a low profile, worrying that any attention they get will be negative. There are no signs that say "Carino" on their building. Write Carino's parent company, GC Rieber an email here.

The processing of the pelts requires more than a month and involves several steps. Each pelt is approximately 3-4 feet long by 2-3 feet wide. The usual process involves soaking them in brine for several weeks and then tanning them, but the pelts can be stored for several months in brine without any degradation. Many of the pelts are also dyed, primarily dark colors (to hide their identity?). After the pelts are tanned, they sell them to brokers, who in turn sell them to fur coat and accessory manufacturers in China and other countries in the Far East, Turkey, and European countries outside the EU (see table above, but note that destinations have changed as a result of seal product import bans).

We have heard that thousands of excess pelts are or have been stacked in warehouses throughout eastern Canada and Norway and also that tens of thousands have been disposed of over the years (through dumping and/or burning). This may or may not be true. What we do know is that Carino's parent company, G.C. Reiber and Co., was caught burning 10,000 excess harp seal pelts in 2006 (as reported in a Norwegian newspaper).

 

 

 

Seal fur smuggling?

Harp seal fur jacketWith markets for seal products closing worldwide, and sealing continuing, where are seal pelts going?

Carino has said that it is dying most of the pelts dark brown or black and that they are being sold for use in hats and fur trim on coats or jackets.

Have new markets been found in Asian countries without seal product bans? Or are seal pelts being mislabeled, much like dog and cat fur has been mislabeled, and then smuggled into countries where it is illegal (including the U.S., EU, Russia, and Taiwan)?

Please be on the lookout for seal fur contraband. This is a dense, somewhat rough fur. It will smell like burning hair when lit with a match or lighter.

If you see possible seal fur contraband, please document it and send Harpseals.org the information and a hair sample.

 

 

 

The value of the pelt industry

The total export value of the fur industry in Canada increased from CAN$185,309,841 in 2001 for "raw furskins" to CAN$242,556,390 in 2005. For processed/tanned skins, the export value rose from CAN$216,081,324 in 2001, to CAN$286,760,595 in 2005, according to Industry Canada. The value of the seal skin exports (see table above) is about 5% of the total value of the Canadian fur industry. in 2001, Canada's fur industry was valued at $335 million, and seal fur was a small portion of Canada's fur trade.

harp seal furAtlantic Marine Products claimed that they represented a great value to the community. An Atlantic Marine Products brochure contends that, in Catalina, "the harvesting and processing of seals forms a community event involving many local residents." However, the plant itself only employed about 45 people, in what looks much more like a daily grind than a county fair.

The prices of seal pelts rose in the early part of this century. In 2003, they sold for approximately CAN$45 . In 2005, they sold for about CAN$70. In 2006, the prices were hyper-inflated, averaging about CAN$118. The 2006 prices may have been artificially inflated as there were excess pelts in the market.

In 2008, the highest prices paid were $33 according to the proposed price list (below), but $31 per pelt, according to sealers. In 2009, according to Frank Pinhorn of the Canadian Sealers Association, only $14 was paid for the highest grade pelts. Nutan Furs said that it paid $15 for the highest grade pelts and $2.50 for the blubber from one pelt. In 2010, $23.50 was paid for such pelts, according to Pinhorn.

In 2012, after the Newfoundland government awarded Carino a CAN$3.6 million loan to buy pelts from sealers, Carino paid $28 per pelt for the highest grade pelts. In 2013, with another CAN$3.6 million loan from the provincial government, Carino paid sealers at most $35 for the best pelts.

 

2008 Price List 04/03/08 from Carino in Canadian dollars

December 10, 2007 I II III IV
Ragged Jacket (Note #2) $20.00 $15.00 $10.00 $0.00
Beater A $33.00 $23.10 $13.20 $0.00
Beater B $22.00 $15.40 $8.80 $0.00
Beater C $15.00 $10.50 $6.00 $0.00
Bedlamer, Small, Natural $15.00 $9.00 $6.00 $0.00
Bedlamer, Small, Yellow $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Bedlamer, Large, Natural $25.00 $15.00 $10.00 $0.00
Bedlamer, Large, Yellow $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Ring Seal, Natural $10.00 $6.00 $4.00 $0.00
Blubber (per Kg.) $0.20      

Note #1: All products will be subject to quality inspection!
Note #2: Not more than 5% Ragged Jackets will be accepted in any lot purchased! Any and all above prices are subject to change without notice!

2007 Price List from Carino in Candian dollars

March 27, 2007 I II III IV
Ragged Jacket $30.00 $22.50 $15.00 $0.00
Beater A $55.00 $38.50 $22.00 $0.00
Beater B $40.00 $28.00 $16.00 $0.00
Beater C $25.00 $17.50 $10.00 $0.00
Bedlamer, Small, Natural $20.00 $12.00 $8.00 $0.00
Bedlamer, Small, Yellow $15.00 $9.00 $6.00 $0.00
Bedlamer, Large, Natural $40.00 $24.00 $16.00 $0.00
Bedlamer, Large, Yellow $20.00 $12.00 $8.00 $0.00
Ring Seal, Natural $10.00 $6.00 $4.00 $0.00
Blubber (per Kg.) $0.20      

Conclusions

Seal killing is a business- a sickening one, with the pelts bringing in the largest profits from this business. Seal oil for human consumption is a smaller industry. Profits in the sealing industry go mostly to sealing boat captains and seal skin processors. In some years, the sealers can make several hundred dollars; in others even sealing boat captains and independent sealers can barely break even. Nevertheless, the Canadian government continues to prop up this industry even though the majority of Canadian taxpayers do not want their tax dollars used in this way.

While eliminating the demand for seal skins is an important part of ending the seal massacres, it's not the only way to ensure that this industry becomes unprofitable. Since the fishing industry is so closely tied with the sealing industry, our boycott of Canadian seafood will ensure that the seal killing becomes a drain on the economies of the Maritime provinces, especially Newfoundland, where most of the seal killing takes place. So, join the boycott today!

 

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