(OTTAWA) Senator Mac Harb today introduced legislation that will end the commercial seal hunt in Canada while respecting and protecting the rights of Canada’s aboriginal population.
“In the face of disappearing markets for seal products and overwhelming international opposition, it is time for Canada to recognize that we can’t resuscitate this dying industry any longer,” said Senator Harb. “The majority of Canadians do not want the government spending more public money on an activity that’s just not economically sound. The people of these communities deserve a more viable, profitable, long-term employment option.”
The European Union is poised to ban the import of seal products. A widespread U.S.-based seafood boycott is hurting Canada’s billion dollar fishery. Along with tourist boycotts and worldwide negative publicity, Canada is paying a big price to keep the seal hunt alive.
“At a time when we should be building bridges and promoting Canada to the world, we are antagonizing our largest trading partners and the rest of the world over a money losing industry,” said Senator Harb.
As the demand for pelts tumbles, and despite the government’s multi-million dollar efforts to prop up the industry, there is little money being made. In 2008, the landed value of the seal hunt was $7 million, contributing only a fraction of a fisher’s annual income (an average of $1,100 per sealer, before deducting their expenses). While this is not an insignificant sum, it comes at a much higher cost to the individuals involved, and to Canada. Senator Harb noted that a portion of the Government of Canada’s two year, $1 billion Community Adjustment Fund should be used to transition affected workers into new employment opportunities.
Office of the Hon. Senator Mac Harb