Myths and facts about seals hunting

On the frozen ice of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a sealer moves in to kill a seal pup with a hakapik - a spiked club. Canada allows the controversial hunting of seal pups and 95% of the seals killed are younger than 3 months old. The hunt takes place annually each spring. During 2005 the Canadian government set a quota allowing up to 319,500 seals to be killed. The hunt continues through mid-April.

As I am someone who is strongly against animal cruelty, it is hard to stay unbiased talking about the hunting of 12-day old baby seals. But the hunting of the baby seals is allowed by the Government of Canada quoting around 325,000 seals that can be killed each year.

The problem is, everyone involved in storytelling has their own agenda. Greenpeace or PETA, the government, the hunters. And the discussion, if we could even call it that, is filled with hate on both sides of the aisle.

So, depending on what is your source, your outlook into the whole situation may be completely different.

So, in this article all I can do is stick to the facts and try to explain the situation as clearly as I can.

Facts about Canada-regulated seal hunting

  1. The process of killing a seal is strictly regulated to ensure no unnecessary suffering of the animal.
  2. Any seal killing against the protocol will result in losing the hunting license as well as a fine as significant as $4,000.
  3. There is native seal hunting as well as commercial hunting. But two are rarely separated and if blocked outright, it would impact native Inuit communities in the Newfoundland.
  4. Seals are hunted for the blubber, meat and pelt.
  5. Seal hunting has been going on for almost 50 years.
  6. The annual seal hunt allows hunting of hooded and harp seals.

It is hard to say whether baby seals or as they are also known, whitecoats are often a casualty. As it is often the case in this two-fold debate is the claims of one side directly contradict the claims of the other.

Another unconfirmed claim is the declining/growing population of seals. We are still waiting for the new statistics while both loud-mouth sides keep shouting contradicting statistics.

Conclusion: Seal Hunt is necessary

It is clear that seal hunt is a cruel activity. But it is also necessary for the survival of indigenous Newfoundlanders. This is a fact.

However, it is also clear that the opposing sides are never coming up with an agreement that fits both. That’s why the only reasonable solution to reach a middle ground would be to allow commercial hunting only every other year and arrange more frequent updates about the seal population. And then develop regulations only based on facts that are presented by the scientists and not the special interest groups, because to be completely fair, no one in this fight want a fact-based debate.