Canada’s annual harp seal hunt in Newfoundland began today, but the ports looked deserted compared to the usual bustling activity, Reuters reported. With the worst ice conditions in the gulf in 40 years and a dwindling market for sea pelts, many sealers don’t feel it’s worth it to take part this year.
After an EU ban on seal imports, the asking price for seal pelts has dropped dramatically– while the asking price used to be about $100, it now hovers around $14-15, Reuters reported.
All this, however, isn’t necessarily good news for the seals. Despite the ban, Canada is still going ahead with the hunt, and while there’s less turnout, there are still diehard sealers who are partaking because it’s a part of their tradition.
“It’s in our blood,” sealer Frank Brown told Reuters.
Furthermore, while there are less sealers, there are less seals as well– seal populations are dropping because of warming temperatures and melting ice. Ice provides a habitat for the seals, and when they give birth, for example, they do so on the ice. According to the New York Times, many seal pups drown at birth after slipping off the patches of ice they were born on, or are crushed by moving ice.