A harp seal pup clings to the ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Canada allowed 400,000 harp seals—just days older than this one—to be hunted commercially in 2016, but with demand for seal products declining, only 66,000 were taken.
Demand For Seal Products Has Fallen—So Why Do Canadians Keep Hunting?
The seal business isn’t booming any longer, but the Great White North is reluctant to give up the controversial pursuit.
Not long after European settlers established a commercial seal industry in Canada in the early 1500s, business was booming. Back in the day, seal oil was sold in the Old World for use as a machine lubricant. And later, demand for newly in-vogue fur meant that hundreds of thousands of harp seals were killed each year in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador so North Americans and Europeans could drape themselves in sealskin coats.
Today, though, the Canadian seal industry looks like a shell of its former lucrative self. Decades of bad publicity and campaigns to end the slaughter have taken a toll. Last year sealing generated only $1.6 million in sales, down