Harpseals.org is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Charity Working to End the Slaughter of Harp Seals and Other Seals in Canada and Namibia
As of May 12 (Mother's Day in the U.S. - A sad day for the mothers who carried, nursed, and cared for sthese pups), Canada's data on the number harp seal pups killed was 62,043 pups on the Front, off Newfoundland and Labrador; and 26,530 pups in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence. This does not include seal pups who were shot but got away, only to bleed to death over time. In the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, in March, about 1,600 harp seal pups were killed. Thus the total number of seal pups killed so far is about 90,173, which is over 21,000 more than last year. All this killing has been paid for by Newfoundland taxpayers.
This harp seal pup was shot by a Newfoundland sealer in the past few days. Though the sealers aim for the seals' heads, they often miss, leaving these seal pups to squirm in pain. It can be several minutes before a sealer approaches to sink a hook in the seal's mouth, drag the still-conscious seal on-board the vessel, and finally kill the seal with blows to the head. Photo taken from HSUS/HSI video 'Canada's 2013 Baby Seal Slaughter Begins'
Sealers (who are off-season fishermen) bludgeon and shoot these seal pups for their pelts. For most of these defenseless creatures, their pain and their screams were ignored. In a few cases, they were recorded, by HSI/HSUS's Rebecca Aldworth. (See photos here. See the video on the HSUS website.)
Harpseals.org is committed to fighting for an end to this senseless killing.
The 'Seals and Sealing Network' says that sealers are planning to kill 100,000 seal pups this year.
A few weeks ago, in the southern Gulf St. Lawrence, about 1,600 seal pups were killed in the first phase of Canada's seal 'hunt.'The seal pups who were killed were members of a small herd (estimated by one Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) official to have included 2,000 to 3,000 pups before the killing began) located off the coast of Prince Edward Island.
They were concentrated in one small area because of the lack of sea ice in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. This ice floe was about the only good one for pupping.
The seal pups were killed by sealers (Canadian fishermen) on 5 boats as well as land-based sealers.
Harp seal pup. Photo AFP
Now, seal pups are being killed by Newfoundland-based fishermen/sealers. They use rifles, attempting to shoot the seals in the head, but often missing the head. Then, they retrieve the seal pups either with a hook (e.g. the hook end of a hakapik) from their boat or by walking on the ice floe, bashing the seals' heads in with a hakapik, and then dragging them to the boat with the hook end of the hakapik.
Not only is this slaughter paid for entirely with the Newfoundland tax money (see below), but the Canadian government, via the DFO and Coast Guard, also contributes to this effort with ice breakers and by providing coordinates of the seal herd.
Harpseals.org has a new TV commercial. Help us air it across the country!
Canada's seal 'hunt' to be 100% subsidized by the Newfoundland (Canada) provincial government again
Last year, with world markets almost entirely closed to seal pelts and other seal products, the provincial government of Newfoundland, Canada took CAN$3.6 million of Newfoundland tax money and allocated it to a foreign company, Carino, which is based in Norway, in order to entice the company to buy pelts from sealers.
As a result about 70,000 seal pups were bludgeoned and shot to death solely to stockpile their pelts (adding to large, existing stockpiles).
This year, again the Newfoundland goverment is allocating the same amount of tax money to Carino thus ensuring tens of thousands more seal pups will be killed...for nothing.
Canada's government in the past has vehemently argued that the seal 'hunt' was not significantly subsidized, but was a 'market-based' hunt. No longer is Canada concerned about being seen as a government that throws tax dollars into a bloody, useless massacre. The seal 'hunt' has become an even bigger black mark on Canada, as it desperately attempts to keep a dying industry alive.
Sealing interests brought a case before the General Court of the European Union - again - in an effort to overturn the EU ban on seal product imports
The Canadian Fur Institute led a group that included a handful of Inuit traders and a Scottish manufacturer of men's purses made from animal skins (called 'sporrans').
Case T-526/10 was virtually a repeat of the case T-18/10 RII-INTP. In fact, in their pleas, the plaintiffs stated that they “repeat the arguments put forward in support of their claims in Case T-18/10.”
They added only the claim that the Commission has abused its powers, aiming in reality to block any sales of pelts in the European Union, without exception.
The Court handed down its ruling April 25, 2013: The case has been dismissed, leaving the EU ban on seal pelts intact.
The Court said, "The General Court confirms that the objective of the basic regulation, which is the improvementof the conditions of functioning of the internal market, taking into account the protection of animal welfare, cannot be satisfactorily achieved by action undertaken only in the Member States and requires action at EU level."
Read the full press release from the General Court here.
WTO hears complaint by Canada and Norway against the European Union ban on seal product imports
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has heard the first and second round of arguments in the case brought by Canada and Norway against the 2009 ban on imports of seal pelts and other seal products into the European Union. Canada and Norway filed a complaint with the WTO in an attempt to force the European Union to repeal the ban, which has contributed to the closing of worldwide markets for seal pelts.
Canada has tried to claim that the seal slaughter is humane. But it has to counter direct evidence to the contrary that was obtained by EU representatives. "Canada, while beginning with a broad-based defense of sealing as humane, then stakes its case on the notion that things have improved considerably since most of the evidence mustered by the EU was gathered. The period mentioned by Canada is five years, no accident perhaps since it was five years ago that the deliberative process occurred that led to the EU ban. Canada seems to be implicitly acknowledging that its practices were not up to snuff from the time of growing public concern about the seal hunt in the 60s through 2008 but once the EU ban was in place, or about to be put into place, it suggests it began to pull up its socks," wrote Robert Howse, the Lloyd C. Nelson Professor of International Law at NYU School of Law. (See his blog with more from the WTO hearings here.)
A ban based on moral considerations is legitimate under the governing laws of the WTO. But Canada has argued that opinion polls that were considered by the EU in deciding to ban seal imports were not sufficient to determine the public sense of morality regarding sealing. "Canada’s reasoning is that the opinion polls indicate that the attitudes of EU citizens are based on limited knowledge of the Canadian hunt. One only wonders what Canada would say about the beliefs of Hindus in India about cows, if it were now to go on to challenge that country’s restrictions on bovine meat. Would it bring scientists to the panel hearing to “prove” that it is unreasonable for Hindus to think of cows as deserving treatment as “sacred” animals? In fact, the Appellate Body makes it very clear in US-Gambling and China-Publicationsthat opinion polls aren’t required, nor a Habermas-type ideal-speech situation, in order for ”public morals” to be invoked. The moral views don’t have to be those of everyone in society, and the government doesn’t have to quiz the populace to determine their rationality or level of knowledge in order to enact measures based on public morals," according to Prof. Howse.
"After continuously insisting that what is humane or not is a matter for science and not for uniformed public opinion, Canada now said that the term “humane” had certain “subjective” qualities and that a “careful scientist” scientist would refrain from making a determination of what is “humane” or not, presumably leaving that to the value judgments of politicians or the public," Howse wrote.
In addition to testimony from Canada and Norway, the WTO heard from other countries (third parties), including the U.S. (in favor of the EU seal import ban), Iceland and Japan (against the ban), and Namibia (killer of Cape fur seal pups) gave it's testimony in secret.
On April 29, 2013, the WTO held the second round of hearings and a public viewing. The Canadian and Norwegian contingent again spread misinformation and claimed that the slaughter was humane.
Take action to let WTO ministers know where you stand on this issue.
We will keep you up to date regarding the outcome of these hearings.
Take Action for Seals
Tell Canada to 'Move On'!
Please call Right Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister: 613-992-4211
and Hon. Keith Ashfield, Fisheries Minister: 613-992-1067
and Hon. Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade: 613-995-0183
Canadians, please call the Parliament switchboard toll-free (Canada): 1-866-599-4999 and request to speak to your MP as well. You can also find your MP's contact number here.
Please tell them:
MOVE ON, CANADA! The world has said 'No' to the bloody pelts stolen from defenseless harp seal pups. Now, it's time for Canada to accept the world's condemnation of this massacre and 'Move On'. Move on to fund a buyout of sealing licenses. Move on to support training for these fishermen/sealers who are finding less and less work as fishermen as the ocean ecology is decimated (by them).
Use our automated emails to contact Canada's leaders, too.
Join or organize a protest or other event to spread the word, and help put an end to this atrocity forever.
Help the Seals - Boycott Canadian Seafood
How can you help end the slaughter of seal pups in Canada? The best way is to join the boycott of Canadian seafood.
Harpseals.org conducted studies to assess the effectiveness of the Canadian seafood boycott campaign. We have found that Americans are very willing to join the boycott. In fact, two months after viewing our edited 30 second TV spot, over 45% of people polled in our nationwide study are willing to participate in the Canadian seafood boycott: over 25% are boycotting Canadian seafood or intend to boycott Canadian seafood; another 21% say that they would join the boycott if they knew how. After they learn about the Candian seal slaughter, what we have found is that they simply need to know how to identify Canadian seafood.
Harpseals.org aims to inform Americans about the seal hunt and provide Americans with the knowledge they need to help end the slaughter - by boycotting Canadian seafood. Now we have a new, updated TV commercial. Please help us conduct a national advertising campaign for the seals.
In addition to boycotting Canadian seafood, please boycott tourism to Canada, especially to the Maritimes provinces.
Canada's Senate approves massive cull of grey seals
"If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience." George Bernard Shaw.
Dr. Jeff Hutchings, University of Halifax
Once again, Canada is blaming the seals for the loss of the cod population. In the past, the harp seals have been the scapegoats; now it's the grey seals. At the behest of the Canadian fishing industry, the Canadian Senate has now approved a massive cull of grey seals, despite testimony from scientists warning that such an extreme cull could have dangerous unintended consequences.
"One cannot credibly predict from a science perspective whether a cull of grey seals would have a positive impact on cod or negative impact on cod … or no impact whatsoever," said Dr. Jeff Hutchings of the University of Halifax..
Of an estimated population of 104,000 grey seals in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Canadian Senate has approved a plan to kill 70,000 seals, or 2/3 of the estimated population.
Read more about this cull here.
Read Sen. Mac Harb's response to this report here.
Read the Senate's complete report here.
Read a letter summarizing the problems with this plan here.
Read about the interaction of seals and cod in the ocean ecosystem here.
Take action here.
NOAA Fisheries lists ice seals as threatened, endangered
Dec. 21, 2012
A ringed seal pup peeks out from its protective snow cave near Kotzebue, Alaska. Photo: Mike Cameron, NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory
After two years of study and public comment, the U.S. agency, NOAA fisheries, announced that it was listing four subspecies of ringed seals and two distinct population segments of bearded seals under the Endangered Species Act.
NOAA will list the Beringia and Okhotsk distinct population segments of bearded seals and the Arctic, Okhotsk, and Baltic subspecies of ringed seals as threatened. It will list the Ladoga subspecies of ringed seals as endangered.
The reasons NOAA cites for the listings are
• Under the ESA, a threatened species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. An endangered species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
• Ringed and bearded seals are particularly dependent upon ice and snow for survival. Many aspects of the ringed and bearded seal’s life cycles depend on the availability of suitable ice, and for ringed seals snow cover, at the right time of the year in areas with sufficient food.
• Climate models consistently project diminishing ice and snow cover at least through the current century, with regional variation in the timing and severity of those losses.
• Although ringed and bearded seals are currently numerous in Alaska, NMFS has concluded that the changes in ice, and for ringed seals snow cover, are likely to lead to population declines in the foreseeable future and pose significant long-term threats to the persistence of these seals.
Contrast this with the actions of the Canadian government in managing the ice seals (i.e., harp seals) in its waters: instead of designating the species as protected, it spends millions of taxpayer dollars to massacre the seals.
Read more about seal conservation and the effects of climate change on seals.
|Victory for seals!
Natural Habitat Adventures has been operating seal tours from the Magdalen Islands of Quebec, one of the two main regions from which sealers hail, for years. This company paid sealers to take unsuspecting tourists to see the seals just weeks before the same sealers would kill the seals.
After taking this tour and discovering that the company was using sealers as guides, seal tourist Yvonne embarked on a journey of justice. With the help of Harpseals.org in exposing the truth and the expertise of the Better Business Bureau, we have achieved an important victory for the seals as Natural Habitat Adventures decided to cancel these tours as long as operating them would support sealers. Read more here.
Great news for two harp seal pups
Thanks to a public outcry, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans has authorized the release of two captive harp seal pups into Canadian waters.
These seals had been captured by the DFO and sent to Aquarium des Iles in the Magdalen Islands (tel. 418-937-2277) for display. When the tourist season ended, the aquarium planned to kill the seals upon closing its doors for the winter.
A public outcry and petition that garnered over 139,000 signatures led the DFO to allow the release of the seals despite its new regulation prohibiting releases of seals held in captivity.
Read more here.
Harpseals.org has warned seal lovers for years that Magdalen Islanders seek to profit from seals both by enticing tourists to gaze at seal pups and by killing them. This is just one more example of the heartless exploitation of seals that Magdalen Islanders engage in.
Note: One claim that has been made is that it would be 'dangerous to other wildlife' to release them since they have been in captivity; however, rescue organizations routinely release rehabilitated seals back into the ocean. In fact, this year, the University of New England Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center released a rehabilitated harp seal pup; and on the afternoon of September 15th the center released four rescued harbor seals.
Namibia's Cape fur seal slaughter
The Namibian government authorized the killing of 90,000 Cape fur seals this summer, mostly nursing pups, in beach colonies. This is Namibia's version of a seal massacre and is at least as cruel as Canada's.
In 2010 and 2011, Namibia had the distinction of killing the most seal pups, and in fact, the most marine mammals, of any nation.
Over 90,000 Cape fur seals, including 85,000 pups were clubbed and stabbed to death in Namibia in August 2011, by just a handful of sealers.
This slaughter is horrendously brutal. Sealers corral these seals in a small area on a beach and massacre them in front of each other, pups in front of their mothers. It is one of the most sickening acts of cruelty in the world.
The legality of this slaughter was challenged in court by Seal Alert's Francois Hugo. Namibia's ombudsman, John Walters, was tasked with the duty to consider the case made by Hugo and decide whether the killing could continue.
Waters produced his report on June 23rd, and has given the slaughter the green light to continue even though he admits that there are issues in the way in which the killing is conducted..
Read the report and our summary and criticism here.
Millions of Americans finally were awakend to this cruelty thanks to Animal Planet and its report on Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's response to the killing last year. This year Sea Shepherd is working on aerial surveilance of the killing.
Please take action to end the slaughter.
Read more about the Cape fur seal massacre here.
Senator Mac Harb speaks out for seals
Seal pup shot by sealer but not killed. Seal raised his/her hind flippers, strugging in pain, while bleeding from the head. Sealer is seen approaching seal pup to strike him/her with a hakapik. Photo from footage taken by HSUS/HSI 2012.
Sen. Mac Harb spoke out on behalf of seals in the Canadian Senate, when he was able to bring Bill S-210 to the floor for debate. Sen. Harb's submitted this bill to end the seal slaughter in Canada. The debate will continue in the fall.
Please send an email to the Senators to urge them to vote YES on this bill.
Newfoundland Fisheries Minister's wild claims
The latest propaganda from Newfoundland is the claim by the provincial fisheries minister that the increased kill compared to last year reflects a growing market for seal products in Asia. Already, he is trying to hide the fact that his taxpayer subsidy is responsible for the deaths of 70,000 seal pups.
Harpseals.org will not allow Canada to forget this bloody subsidy. We will keep reminding Newfoundland taxpayers that millions of their hard-earned dollars were spent on this massacre and that, as this payout was couched as a loan, they should soon be reimbursed with interest.
Take action: write to the NL fisheries minister, who is giving out these subsidies, here.
Write to the Canadian senators, who are finally debating a bill to end the seal 'hunt' for good.
Hay Island Experimental Slaughter
In 2011, 1,900 grey seals were killed on Hay Island, Nova Scotia. Read more about this 'experimental' slaughter here. This year, fishermen on Nova Scotia said that they have a local market for seal body parts. They killed 8 seals to satisfy this 'market'.
Grey seal mother and pup. Photo by Paul Darrow, Reuters, 2011
Since markets for seal fur have dwindled, the Canadian government is working with the Canadian fishing industry on a campaign scapegoat the grey seals for the failure the North Atlantic cod (whose population was decimated by over-fishing) to recover.
Canada's Senate is considering another seal massacre: grey seals would be slaughtered by the tens of thousands if this proposal is approved.
Once again, the Canadian government is blaming seals for its fishermen's woes. After nearly wiping out the North Atlantic cod by overfishing, Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans blamed the harp seals for the decimation of the cod population. After years of unscientific propaganda, they changed their claim to pin the failure of the cod to recover (since the commercial fishing moratorium was introduced over twenty years ago) on the harp seals. Then, they stopped making this unsubstantiated claim and instead called the harp seal slaughter a 'market-based harvest' though many people who heard this propaganda for years in the Maritimes continued to believe it.
Now, the Canadian government is blaming the grey seals for the failure of the cod to recover. Though some of scientists in Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans question the efficacy of a seal cull in restoring the cod population, Canada's government has not often based its decisions on science, let alone ethics. Read more here and here.
Please take action for the grey seals today, by sending the Canadian Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans an email. And remember to Boycott Canadian seafood.
Great news for seals: Russia bans seal product imports
Russia, Canada's largest pelt market, banned seal product imports in August 2011. This fantastic news means that the sealing industry will be even more decimated than it was as a result of the ban on seal product imports by the European Union in 2010.
Read more about the Russian seal import ban here.
We are very grateful to Russia for its compassionate act, yet we still must remain vigilant as Canada and Norway are challenging the bans on seal imports at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The undemocratic WTO, an organization that meets in secret and answers to no one can demand that the EU and Russia reverse their bans or face huge fines.
Thus far, the efforts of Canada to overturn the EU ban have failed. The European General Court threw out a court challenge to the EU seal product import ban by Canada's largest Inuit group in 2011. We hope that the bans will stand, or, if the WTO demands that they be reversed or watered down, we hope that the EU and Russia will stand firm and maintain these bans regardless.
Read more about the Inuit challenge here.
The Travesty of Canada's Seal "Management" Program
Mike Hammill, DFO Scientist
It is clear, even from the statements of the DFO's own scientists, that the Canadian government is violating the Precautionary Approach to marine ecosystem management by which they claim to abide. “We can’t really measure the mortality,” said [DFO Biologist Mike] Hammill. “We (won’t) know the true impact until about five years later when these animals will start to have their own young and we will see if there’s a drop in pup production or not.”
Considering the harp seal population guesstimates that the DFO has put out in the past few years, ranging from 5-6 million to 9 million, the incompetence of the DFO is obvious; DFO mismanagement is alive and well.
Since 1996, the numbers of harp seal pups killed have rivaled the level of killing in the 1950's and 1960's. During the years 1952-1970, the average number of harp seals killed was just over 291,000. From 1996 to 2008, the average number of harp seals killed was just over 265,000. The level of killing of the seals during the 1950's and 1960's caused a severe decline in the population, leading conservationists to demand that a quota system be established.
After the DFO was forced to establish this system in 1971, the rate of killing decreased by over 40%. (From 1971 to 1982, the average dropped to just over 165,000.) Then, in 1983, when the European Union banned the imports of whitecoat (less than 2 week old) harp seal pelts (at that time the whitecoats were being targeted by sealers), the market for seal pelts crashed. Sealers thus killed fewer seals. The average number of harp seals killed was about 52,000 from 1983-1995.
Due to the reduction in the killing, the harp seal population grew from less than 2 million to over 5 million, still much lower than the historic population, estimated to be around 20 million, before Europeans came to Newfoundland and began killing seals.
But in 1996, after the Canadian government developed markets for pelts from 3 week old seals, the killing rates escalated. In addition to the increased killing, almost back to pre-1971 levels, the ice floes have become more and more sparse and less and less stable, causing large increases in drowning.
So how could the harp seal population grow from about 5 million to over 9 million in the past few years? Leave it up to the agency that wiped out the North Atlantic cod to come up with numbers like these.
A Brief Background on Canada's Seal Hunt
Each year, in the harp seal slaughter, a few thousand Canadian fishermen bludgeon and shoot two-week to two-month-old seals, hook and drag them and skin many of these pups while they are still alive and conscious. They then sell the skins to European and Asian furriers. The bodies of these seals are left to rot.
In this competitive commercial slaughter, each sealer charges across the ice floes in an effort to kill as many seal pups as he can before someone else gets the pups. In 2008, sealers on longliners on the Front (the second phase of the seal hunt, off the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador) killed their quota of seals in just two days.
This atmosphere discourages adherence to rules and regulations, such as checking for blinking eyes before skinning the seal pups. Observers of the hunt have documented hundreds of violations of these regulations, but the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), which regulates the seal hunt, has rarely levied any charges against the perpetrators.
Canadian sealer clubbing seals.
(c) HSUS / Brian Skerry
In 2008, four sealers were killed and four sealing vessels were destroyed in the treacherous icy waters. The Canadian Coast Guard rescued several sealers (at Canadian taxpayers' expense), but some sealers died in the attempted rescue. Read the news reports about the 2008 slaughter here.
The slaughter of seals in Canada has taken place for hundreds of years. Today, this annual ritual offers so little economic value to the sealers, and even to the sealing boat captains (whose take is usually 50%), that many stayed home in 2008.
To learn more about the history of sealing in Canada and the modern seal hunt, visit our About the Hunt section.
Lone harp seal pup among dozens of harp seal carcasses left behind by sealers.
(c) SF Bay / Indymedia
One person who has observed the slaughter of seal pups for many years and who was born and raised in the sealing province of Newfoundland and Labrador is Rebecca Aldworth. In her journal, she described what she saw on the ice floes:
"As we passed one large red vessel, we saw sealers jump off the side onto the ice. They ran towards a single live seal pup, hakapiks in hand.
The pup, sensing danger, tried desperately to crawl towards the edge of the water. But the two men bearing down on her were faster. One sealer struck her on the side, then twice again on the head. He grabbed her hind flippers and pulled her back across the ice, stopping to club her twice more. He grabbed her front flipper and turned her over.
But then the second sealer kicked the wounded pup with his boot. Seeing a reaction, he motioned to the first sealer, who clubbed her four more times on the head.
Not to be outdone, the second sealer grabbed his hakapik and clubbed the baby seal once more. He flipped her over and began to cut her open -- only to roll her back over so the first sealer could club her three more times. This poor baby seal was clubbed thirteen times in total."
Snow crabs from Canada are being boycotted.
How Harpseals.org Works for Seals
Harpseals.org provides extensive information on all aspects of the seal hunt, so that individuals can understand what takes place, when the seal hunt occurs, how the sealers kill the seals, where the killing occurs, who the sealers are, and why the killing continues.
Explore the site through the links on the left and top of this page.
We also work tirelessly to end the slaughter and provide information and assistance to seal activists all over the world. Our primary strategy to end the annual Canadian seal hunt is the Canadian seafood boycott. This boycott puts pressure on the sealers themselves and the industry behind the slaughter.
We invite you to use our website to learn about the seal hunt, and we hope you will join us in working to end it.