Seals and the Seal Hunt in the News in 2014
Sealer about to kill harp seal pup. Photo by Yoanis Menge, 2013.
In 2013, Canadian sealers killed over 90,000 harp seal pups, and Namibian sealers killed over 51,000 Cape fur seal pups and almost 4,000 Cape fur seal bulls.
In Canada, the number of active sealers has declined over the years as demand for seal skins has declined. Canadian sealers are off-season fishermen who kill seals before the start of fishing season, making a few hundred to about a thousand dollars, which is a small percentage of their annual income.
In Namibia, only a few dozen sealers go out to club and stab seal pups, in earshot of their mothers. Their wages are so low that they can only afford to live in shacks. In contrast the buyer and processor of these seal skins, Hatem Yavuz, is a multi-millionaire.
Canada's government puts millions of taxpayer dollars into this dying industry to prop it up. Namibia puts public money into the industry, too, assisting an attempted expansion of the industry with a new processing plant in Luderitz.
All this is happening at the same time as demand plummets as a result of bans on seal product imports in the European Union, the Russian Federation, Taiwan, Mexico, and others.
The stubborn refusal of the governments of Canada and Namibia to allow this cruel industry to die can be explained in large part by the politics of the fishing industry. Commercial fishing worldwide is decimating fish stocks, and fishermen are desperate to find scapegoats. Governments are desperate to placate fishermen, as their catches decline and quotas have to be reduced (too little, too late, as it were).
Saving the seals will require action by all compassionate individuals. We offer many suggestions throughout the Harpseals.org website. Next time you consider what to eat, consider that eating seafood, especially from Canada and Namibia, spurs on the fight between fishermen and seals. Choosing not to eat seafood is one of the best ways to help the seals.