The Seal Industry is on it’s Way Out

Supporters aim to clear up misinformation in the industry, store owner says

Supporters of the province’s seal industry are working to promote awareness of the industry’s sustainability through new initiatives this month.

The Natural Boutique, a store selling sealskin and fur products in downtown St. John’s, partnered with Sharing the Harvest, a newly formed community group that distributes local moose and caribou meat to local food banks, to give away seal flippers to customers over the weekend.

Kerry Shears, co-owner of the boutique, called the giveaway an “anti-protest” against people who have previously protested the seal hunt in front of his store.

“Every time they come and we put it out there, we get a lot of support,” he said.

“But we wanted to finally do something to show that there’s a lot of Newfoundlanders who support the industry. So we came up with the idea where we actually are giving out seal flippers via donation.”

Barry Fordham, director of Sharing the Harvest, hopes the work can help show the sustainability of the seal hunt and inform the public after the provincial government allowed game meat to be donated to food banks in November.

“The acronym is SOS: Support Our Sealers,” Fordham said.

“It is very sustainable, other than what you hear in the media.… It is very ethical these days as well, because there’s all kinds of government regulations that have been put in place to make it as humane as possible.”

Shears agrees.

“It’s just a lot of misinformation about the sustainability and everything of the industry,” he added. “Anybody who knows the seal hunt, it’s one of the biggest managed hunts out there in the world right now.”

“It’s something that is part of our heritage, and it’s going to be going for many, many years.”

Source: –

Posted on by FriendsForSealsOrg

‘Game over’ for Norway’s seal hunt

Norway’s northern city of Tromsø used to be a major port for Norway’s controversial seal hunters, but they’ve now faded into the history books. For the first time in several hundred years, not a single Norwegian boat is heading out to hunt seals this season, and proponents of the hunt now blame climate change.

“It’s over. Game over. The ice has shrunk,” Norway’s last seal hunter, Bjørne Kvernmo, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on Friday.

Kvernmo, skipper of the seal-hunting boat Havsel, was active in the hunt for more than 40 years. Now he says there have been “drastic changes” in the sea ice where seals congregated, and where hunters slaughtered them for their furs and meat. “Last year there was damn little ice,” Kvernmo told DN. “We found hardly any seals. It was a wasted trip, a huge downturn.”

He lamented that it was actually raining when his boat arrived in Vestisen near Greenland in 2015. “There was something wrong, it was pouring,” he said. “It’s not supposed to rain on the ice around Greenland.”

Kvernmo said that the ice that was there was so thin that it broke up in stormy seas, and he claims that 50,000 young seals on the ice fell into the sea and drowned. He and his crew had hunted the Greenland seals and got the highest prices for the young seals with silver-grey fur.

“We didn’t find any young seals last year,” he told DN. “They had disappeared, maybe 50-, 60-, 70,000 seals. The polar bears are also looking for them, we saw a helluva lot of polar bear tracks on the edge of the ice.”

Now his boat is moored in Tromsø’s inner harbour, which since 1850 was known as the Arctic port from which polar explorers like Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen set off, along with polar bear- and seal hunters. “It was a lifestyle, an adventure in the northern wind,” he told DN.

The Norwegian government’s decision a few years ago to cut subsidies and years of environmental opposition to the hunt have of course contributed to the demise of seal hunting, Kvernmo noted, but he cited first and foremost the reduction in ice and “difficult conditions.”

He first sailed on the Havsel in 1984, bought the boat in 2004 and in recent years was the only skipper on the only boat still hunting after financial support ended in 2015. “For me, it’s clear that it’s now over,” he said. EU regulations against trade in seal products also cut heavily into the hunt. Now his boat will start working for another industry making its disputed way into the Arctic: oil and gas. DN reported that Havsel will become part of oil pollution prevention efforts in February, sailing off the coast of Finnmark and up towards Bjørnøya.

Kvernmo and his boat, meanwhile, are now starring in a documentary film about seal hunting called Ishavsblod (Sealers: One last hunt), which was featured at the Tromsø International Film Festival this week. Filmmakers Trude Ottesen and Gry Mortensen felt it would be “tragic” if the seal hunt’s “unique culture” hadn’t been documented. “We wanted to make a portrait of the seal hunters, before they disappear,” Mortensen told DN.

Others are likely glad the hunt is over, after years of protests against its alleged brutality. Mortensen and Ottesen, however, claimed that even “vegetarians” at a film festival in Amsterdam where the film was shown before Christmas “had tears in their eyes” over the prospect that the seal hunters were losing their lifestyle, and their culture.

Posted on by FriendsForSealsOrg

Feds put up $5.7 million to market seal products

The federal government is putting $5.7 million toward marketing the sealing industry, despite the hunt grinding to a halt.

The money, announced in the 2015 federal budget, will be dedicated to opening up new products and markets for the sealing industry.

The quota for the 2015 hunt is 400,000 seals, but in 2014 there were only 60,000 seals harvested.

The last seal pelt processor, Carino Processing of South Dildo, N.L., was subsidized by the provincial government to buy pelts.

Carino announced this year it will not buy seal pelts or fat this year, leaving a $1-million provincial loan on the table.

That leaves the industry effectively dead. Anti-sealing groups no longer bother to fly to Newfoundland and Labrador to monitor the seal hunt.

But the government is hoping the $5.7-million investment over five years can open up new markets, particularly in Europe.

That may seem an odd strategy, considering the European Union has banned seal products. Canada’s appeals of the ban were dismissed by the World Trade Organization.

But the ban does not apply to the aboriginal sealing industry, and part of the money will go toward creating a system to certify seal products from aboriginal communities. There is also cash for business advice and training for aboriginal sealers.

The money will also go toward reviving the broader seal hunt.

“It’s a battle of misinformation,” Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea said in an interview this week.

“You have animal welfare groups going around with little stuffed white baby seals and saying, ‘You know, Canada still hunts these seals.’ We haven’t hunted those seals in more than 30 years.”

Other uses for the $5.7 million include promoting seal products in Canada and researching new consumer products such as Omega-3 capsules from seal oil.

“I mean, a lot of people still have leather seat covers and they still have fur coats,” said Shea.

How much money there could be in those endeavours remains to be seen. In 2004, Canada exported $12.8 million worth of seal products. By 2010, the last year for which data is available, the value was only $2.2 million. The government no longer provides information on the value of seal exports.

The price of pelts fell from over $100 a decade ago to as little as $15 in 2009.

The Chronicle Herald News

Posted on by FriendsForSealsOrg

Carino not buying seals this year

CEO calls decision ‘short term pain for long term gain’; says market access key for future

Carino Processing will not be buying seal pelts or fat this year, but company CEO Dion Dakins says the decision is geared to improve the industry’s and the company’s viability in the years ahead.

Dakins said the company has inventory from previous hunts on hand.

However, he said they will be purchasing a limited amount of seal meat from harvesters who are participating.

As a result of the decision, Dakins said Carino has also decided not to access any of the $1 million loan announced last week by the provincial government.

“At this point we just want to focus our efforts on the sale of our existing inventory,” Dakins told CBC’s Fisheries Broadcast.

“It just falls into the basic concept of fiscal responsibility and the financial responsibility of our company to remain strong and be a significant player next year.”

Not wanting to be irresponsible

Dakins said the key to a viable operation for Carino and any operator in the business is to match supply and demand. That being the case, he said the company doesn’t need the raw material at this particular point in time.

“Had we continued to just stockpile goods and not appropriately market and plan the flow of goods out the back end, that would be irresponsible. We’re here, we’ve got lots of pelts, we’ve got lots of oil, we’re going to procure the meat we require, and we’ll be here stronger and better next year,” Dakins said.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, it wasn’t one we take lightly, we know we have a responsibility to keep our harvesters viable. But it is short term pain for long term gain, that’s how we view it.”

Dakins said the hours for Carino processing workers will be affected due to the lack of raw material processing, but he the impact will be lessened by the fact the company’s dressing and dyeing operations will be running as per usual.

International markets key

The key going forward, he said, will be accessing international markets for seal products and demonstrating globally that the harvest is not only viable and sustainable, but also a necessary fisheries eco-management tool.

“I think that we’re challenged with an appropriate model that’s going to be received internationally to allow us to trade our products into a number of markets,” he said.

“Without a viable seal hunt, what do we do in terms of managing this population? It’s clear we can’t afford expensive culls, and Canadians don’t prescribe to wasting a resource; they prefer to see it harvested and utilized under the basic principles of sustainable use to improve our economy.

“If that is not realized sooner rather than later we will lose the capacity to go and hunt to a high animal welfare standard, and trade the products and be a contributor to our local economies.”

New players welcomed

Dakins said the idea Carino doesn’t appreciate having another seal buyer in the fold is incorrect. On the contrary, he argues the emergence of new players means there must be something going right in the industry.

“Carino has spent enormous effort in developing international markets over the past 100-plus years, so it’s nice to see new entrants because there must be something we’ve been doing that is encouraging and showing people there is a brighter future.”

“There is more than enough resource to sustain more than one player in this industry. In 2008 there were five businesses, dressing facilities, that were operating 52 weeks a year on seal products. If one experiences a benefit then we’ll all experience a benefit in this very difficult sector that has been challenged by misinformation for so long.”

Dakins argues that misinformation continues to flow largely from anti-sealing lobbies. He argues the continued assertions by those groups that the harvest is unsustainable, inhumane and provides products that nobody wants is factually incorrect.

“They’re part of the business, they make money off the concept that we are cruel, that we are barbaric and that we are doing something incorrect,” Dakins said.

“In their case they just want to completely stop the whole thing. It’s all hocus-pocus.

“This is a viable industry, self-sustaining and provides good products to customers.”

CBCCBC Radio-Canada

Posted on by FriendsForSealsOrg

Canada Seal Hunt – Newfoundland And Labrador Opens Annual Hunt On Sunday

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The annual seal hunt off Newfoundland and Labrador will open Sunday.

The federal Fisheries Department says sealers on the Front off northeastern Newfoundland and southern Labrador, as well as those based in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, can take to the water at 6 a.m.

Fisheries says seal harvesters should check with their buyers to make sure there is a market for the seals before they head out.

The department is also advising fishermen that they must do humane harvesting training before taking part in this year’s hunt.

The start of the season comes days after the Newfoundland and Labrador government contributed $2 million to two different processing plants to support the provincial sealing sector.

An animal rights group condemned the financial aid, arguing the government is propping up a dying and inhumane industry.

The Canadian Press

Posted on by FriendsForSealsOrg

Swedish seal culls hit by new EU trading rules

The rules for selling seal products have been tightened. An exemption allowing the trade of products made from seals culled as part of wildlife management has been revoked by the EU, which could affect seal trade in Sweden.

The EU commission made the decision after pressure from the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which in November 2013 called the exemption discriminatory.

Sweden is one of six countries in the world that allows the hunting of seals, though only as part of wildlife management and with permission from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket). Around 300 seals were killed in 2014.

The EU decision does not forbid the culling of seals. But rather than selling the fur or the meat, the products must now be destroyed.

Swedish MEP Christofer Fjellner, member of the Moderate party, was among those who hit out at the new rules on Friday.

“The consequence is that you introduce legislation that says ‘shoot and dig'”, he said.

The new rules do not affect seal product trade amongst the Inuit people of the Arctic.

Last year the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) ruled that up to 400 seals could be culled along the country’s coast in a bid to protect depleting stocks of fish.

“The seals cause significant damage for the fishing industry every year,” the agency concluded in a statement.

The Local SE

Posted on by FriendsForSealsOrg

‘Nail in coffin for Norwegian seal hunting’: Govt cuts subsidies

Norway has cut a 12 million kroner ($1.8 million) subsidy for seal hunting from next year’s budget. Environmentalists have applauded the move. Some businesses say it is putting an end to a historical and eco-friendly practice.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries say stripping the seal industry of subsidy has been dictated by “economic priorities.” The government is aware of how vital the financial support has been for the business.

“Seal hunting businesses are run by 80 percent subsidies,” State Secretary Amund Ringdal of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries told the Norwegian news agency NTB.

When they are removed, the consequences will clearly be big. But we cannot say whether it’s the final nail in the coffin for Norwegian seal hunting.

The opposition has criticized the government for yielding to pressure from the EU.

In reality the government gave in to pressure from extreme animal rights organizations and the EU, and did not have an understanding of the historical roots of seal hunting and its role in the management of ecosystems,” Geir Pollestad, of the Centre Party said.

Seal hunting supporters argue there’s a need for limiting the seal population to keep the Norwegian ecosystem balanced. Fishing businesses argue that the end to the seal hunting business could have a negative impact on their industry as well.

We do not accept the government proposal to take away government support for sealing overnight without discussing such a dramatic step with business organizations,” Audun Marak, Managing Director of the Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association said in a statement.

Supporters of abolishing the subsidy argue seal hunting has already shrunk due to a 2009 EU ban on seal product imports. In 2014, an estimated 11,980 seals were caught by only three Norwegian boats.

Environment groups believe the hunt is not influencing the overall seal population and if the business ceases to exist, it’s not going to affect the environment.

The seal hunting subsidies are a typical example of tax payers’ money being used in a meaningless way,” Siri Martinsen from NOAH animal rights group told NTB. “One has paid for the seals to be killed, paid for their skin to be sold, and in some cases also paid for their skin to be destroyed.

Seal hunting nations including Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Russia have in the recent years come under strong pressure from environmentalist groups calling for a ban of the practice.

Russia banned baby seal hunting in 2009, following mass protests in the country inspired by online videos which showed baby seals being clubbed to death by hunters.

In 2011 Russia followed the EU in banning imports of seal products.

Canada and Norway in 2013 appealed to the World Trade Organization to overturn the EU ban on seal products. The WTO Appellate Body however upheld the ban in May 2014.

RT News

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Ground-breaking WTO decision puts animal welfare before Free Trade, based on morals.

After spending hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars to fight a ban put in place by the EU, the Canada and Norway governments received its answer from the World Trade Organization that countries can, in fact, ban products they consider to be inhumane.

More money is spent on promotion, peddling, and fighting trade bans than the commercial seal hunt, which is performed by off-season, full time fishermen, could ever bring in.

Since Canada’s government can’t prove that Northern economy depends on the seal hunt as they claim, a representative of Inuit was sent to trade ban hearings. This was irrelevant since Inuit are not included in the ban, and clearly the WTO thought so, too.

There are still some Inuit who perform substantive hunting, and the EU and Taiwan international markets remain open to them.

View the WTO decision

Posted on by FriendsForSealsOrg

Kaley Cuoco Latest Celeb To Oppose The Seal Hunt

In what is becoming a familiar refrain, a celebrity took to Twitter to post her thoughts on the Canadian seal hunt, and the “disgusting” practices carried out every year.

Kaley Cuoco (who recently added her husband’s last name, Sweeting, to her Twitter profile), star of “The Big Bang Theory,” began her missives on Twitter on April 15, with this tweet:

The California native has continued since then, noting her disgust when people have defended the Canadian seal hunt:

The Humane Society has clarified its position on the seal hunt, making sure to note their support of subsistence sealing, used by many Inuit for food and clothing, vs. commercial sealing. “Unlike Inuit sealers, commercial sealers almost exclusively target baby seals who are less than three months old. Inuit hunters kill seals primarily for meat,” said Humane Society spokeswoman Rebecca Aldworth.

This amendment followed a massive outcry by Inuit people after Ellen DeGeneres donated $1.5 million raised from the star-studded selfie she took at the Oscars to the Humane Society of the United States. The TV host has an official page on her show’s site, calling seal hunting “one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government,” with no specifics as to which seal hunt is being referenced.

For Cuoco’s part, she retweeted a Humane Society tweet noting the specifics of their concern, a stance shared by Friends For Seals, the organization to which she’s suggesting readers donate.

Last year, the commercial hunt off Newfoundland killed about 91,000 harp seals, up from the year before, but short of the federal quota of 400,000, according to the Canadian Press.

Posted on by FriendsForSealsOrg

“Why do some people say seal pups aren’t killed?”

When harp seal pups are born, they are known as “white coats”. This is the fur popular for non-essential fur items only.

When they are about 12 days old, they begin to molt the fuzzy baby fur they were born with. At the thought of defenseless seal pups being killed, public outcry was enormous. But Canada government, still wants that beuatiful white fur, which is gone forever when at approximately 3 months old it’s replaced by light gray with dark spots. What to do?

Thinking they would appease the world, they decided that “technically” when the fuzz begins to shed (and the pups still have white fur) now being “ragged jackets”, they aren’t pups anymore. Counting on the public to just believe what they’re told, Canada’s government continues to declare that seal “pups”, “babies”, and “white coats” aren’t skinned.

In reality, and documented by film each year, 95% of seals killed each year at Canada’s seal hunt, which is performed by otherwise employed full-time fishermen, are between 12 days and 90 days old. These pups are not yet weaned, and don’t yet know how to swim.

The hunt is proclaimed as regulated and observed, however the Department of Fisheries and Oceans does not attend to monitor the hunt, and is not addressing private observer concerns when violations are seen each year.

Posted on by FriendsForSealsOrg