The Atlantic Canadian Anti-Sealing Coalition is a collection of individuals and groups from across the Atlantic Region working to end the commercial seal hunt by peaceful and lawful means. Our strategies include public education, promotion of international boycotts of Canadian tourism and other goods and services, demonstrations, contacting media and governmental officials with our concerns, and combating the dishonest propaganda used by the government and sealing industry to promote the myth that the commercial seal hunt is an economically necessary activity, is conducted in a "humane" manner and is "closely monitored and tightly regulated".
What is the commercial seal hunt?
The Canadian commercial seal hunt is an off-season activity for commercial fishermen from Canada's east coast. Sealers earn a very small percentage (5%) of their annual income from the seal hunt. The majority of the sealers' income is derived from fishing other marine species such as lobster, shrimp and crab.
The Canadian commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals in the world. The hunt takes place on ice floes off the east coast of Canada in two segments. In the first, smaller segment known as the "Gulf", in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the weapon of choice is the hakapik, which is a long club with a spike on one end, although guns are also used to a lesser degree. In the larger segment, known as the "Front", northeast of Newfoundland, guns are more widely used, as the seals are more difficult to reach.
Canada has a second, lesser-known commercial seal hunt. Thousands of baby grey seals are slaughtered on small islands in Cape Breton and other areas of Nova Scotia each year. These pups are killed by Nova Scotian fishermen using crude wooden bats and hakapiks. Up until 2008 the slaughter of these pups occurred in secret and was relatively unnoticed.
Canada's commercial seal hunt is a drain on taxpayers and cannot exist without subsidies from the government. Each year the federal government spends millions on the failing industry, which has seen a 90% drop in profits in the past few years. Many feel the time is right for a licence buyout, which would involve the federal government paying sealers for their licence and giving financial assistance to communities currently involved in the sealing industry. A buyout makes much more sense than the empty promises and political posturing done by the government in the past. The federal government claims to care about sealers and insists it will support their industry, but if the government truly cared for sealers and their families, it would invest in the sealers' futures with a licence buyout, retraining for younger sealers and retirement for older sealers.
Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) claims that the commercial seal hunt is "closely monitored and tightly regulated" and is conducted in strict adherence to the Marine Mammal Regulations. In direct contradiction of these claims, extreme cruelty has been witnessed and captured on film by observers in past years, and documentation of these violations of the Marine Mammal Regulations have been captured on video and have gone uninvestigated and unprosecuted by DFO.
Violations include sealers leaving injured seals to die slowly on the ice or allowing them to escape to the water where they perish slowly; hooking and dragging animals still consciously struggling and in obvious pain; and skinning animals while they are still alive.