Seal populations in Canada are abundant and growing. The harp seal is thriving, with 7.5 million individuals in Canadian waters, at least five times the population of the early 1970s. The grey seal population has increased 30-fold since the 1950s, from 13,000 to more than 500,000.
This conservation success story comes with a price tag: An adult seal eats between 1 and 1.5 tonnes of fish per year. At a time when cod and many other important fish stocks are vulnerable, this volume of consumption is a barrier to recovery.
A carefully managed seal hunt plays an important part in establishing a balanced ecosystem—giving fish stocks space to recover, offering employment and a sustainable food source for coastal and indigenous communities, and ensuring seal populations and marine ecosystems remain healthy.
- Over 8 million seals live in or near Canadian waters
- An adult seal eats up to 1.5 tonnes of fish each year
- A well-managed seal harvest is key to the marine ecosystem and conservation of all species
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“If you look closely, if you’re on the ground in the communities and on the water where these animals actually live, you’ll see that the people who are there fighting for the survival of the entire ecosystem are the hunters.”
—Iqaluit filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril