Clubbing Seals

Determining whether we should be concerned about seal hunts

Seals have been a part of diet and culture of many social groups for several decades. In Canada, the Inuit residing in places like North-West territories and Nunavut rely on seals as a source of food, clothing and income as well as their cultural practices. Economically as well, Canada is one of the largest seal product exporter in the world. However, some see hunting seals as an act of cruelty while others argue that seals are not hunted in a sustainable manner.

What use are the seals to Canada?

  • The Inuit hunt seals as part of their culture.
  • Seal meat is used as food while the skin is used to make winter gloves, coats and boots.
  • Canada has the largest market for seal products. Highest number of seal products are exported to Norway.
  • In places like Newfoundland and Nunavut where there are only a handful of employment opportunities, people work as sealers and sell their stock to make money.
  • All parts of a seal's body are useful for different purposes. Oils, leather and handicrafts can be created using seal parts.

Following is a humorous video showing how seals are clubbed!

Club Seal

What impacts does seal hunting have?

  • It provides a source of income for people during the time when economic opportunities are limited in remote, coastal areas.
  • Most sealers are fishers who participate in other fisheries. The seal hunt provides them with the income needed to pay expenses such as insurance and fishing gear.
  • Some environmental groups see seal clubbing as a cruel act and protest against it.
  • Seal hunting helps people practice their culture.

What has or can be done to make seal hunting sustainable?

  • The Canadian government has set specific guidelines as to how many seals can be hunted per year. For example, In 2009, total allowable catch was set at 280000 harp seals, 8200 hooded seals and 50000 grey seals.
  • When the European union put a ban on import of Canadian seal products, Canada initiated a World Trade Organization dispute settlement process in 2009 where Canada's position was that seals should be hunted but in a sustainable manner to comply with animal welfare.
  • To remove any misconceptions from public minds, the government should create a committee that at end of every year determines that seal populations are at a healthy level and to ensure that the allowable hunts are not crossed.

Looking from a neutral point of view, seals do not decrease drastically in numbers when hunted, one seal can be use dot make atleast ten different products and seal hunting does not negatively affect any other animal species. Therefore, seal hunting should carry on as it is beneficial for Canada’s economy and its people For sustainablity, the governments needs to ensure that the regulations that it has set are being met and as soon as a danger of population decrease in seals is detected, these regulations need to be reviewed.