It has often been stated the the Canadian seal hunt is the most heavily scrutinized hunt in the world. The frequent presence of protestors, anti-sealing groups, and media outlets since the 1970s has drawn worldwide attention to the hunt and its practices.
That attention has wrecked havoc on the sealing industry, as well as countless communities, families, and individuals that saw their safety compromised and their livelihood stripped away. If there is a positive side to the protests, it is this: over the past three decades, methods for hunting seals have been evaluated, improved, and standardized.
Today’s professional sealers are not only experienced hunters, but are required by law to be trained in the humane killing of seals. Completion of this training is mandatory before the renewal of a seal fishing licence.
Quality/Health/Handling training workshops are also highly recommended for commercial sealers. This program, developed in consultation with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, focuses on the quality assurance required for export certification of seal meat and oil.
Seal processors in Newfoundland and Labrador have committed to only purchasing from sealers who have undergone Humane Harvesting and Quality/Health/Handling training.
Fisheries officers monitor the seal hunt 24/7 during the open season. The RCMP, Quebec provincial police, and at-sea observers are also engaged to monitor the hunt and enforce the Marine Mammal Regulations.
Since the 2009 revisions to the Marine Mammal Regulations, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has stepped up its monitoring and enforcement efforts. The government states that it “has made considerable efforts to verify the high level of professionalism and commitment to humaneness of the Canadian sealing industry. Based on approximately 3,000 fishery officer inspections over the last five years, the sealing industry maintained a 96 percent compliance rate.”
Learn More About The Harvest
“Harvest of any animal, regardless of the reason, deserves to be done in a respectful manner that follows basic principles of animal welfare, and issues of poor compliance with proper hunting practices must be addressed through continuous monitoring and enforcement, as they are in slaughterhouses.”
—Pierre-Yves Daoust et al