The Canadian commercial seal hunt is a barbaric bloodlust ritual
where baby seals are beaten to death with spiked clubs and also skinned alive, all for no
economic benefit, motivated by sadism and an irrational hatred of seals.
I wrote this essay to counter the propaganda put out by the Canadian
DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) that portrays the commercial seal hunt as humane and
To claim that a baby seal does not feel extreme pain while being skinned alive, does
not pass the laugh test. Each year hundreds of thousands of seal pups are sadistically
slaughtered. Let’s look at some of the bogus claims of the
Seals need to be culled because of over
There is no scientific data to support that claim. The
makes this unsubstantiated claim in a vain effort to justify the slaughter. Seal
populations are a fraction of what they were before the commercial sealing program began.
Seals are killed humanely.
Most seals are killed by
being bashed oven the head with a spiked club called a hakapik
(hack-a-pick). Others are shot. Because a baby seal’s brain is only the size of a
walnut, it is extremely difficult to kill in one blow or shot. Many blows or bullets are
required to render a seal unconscious or dead. The DFO
’s own studies have shown that over 6,000 baby seals are
skinned alive each year. A panel of veterinarians gave a much higher estimate of
42% skinned alive.
If you seriously think spiked club is a humane way to kill, imagine the hue and cry if
that method were suggested to slaughter steers, execute criminals, put down sick pets or
euthanise the terminally ill.
One internatianl team of veterinarians discovered :
- 79% of the sealers did not check to see if an animal was
dead before skinning it.
- In 40% of the kills, a sealer had to strike the seal a
second time, presumably because it was still conscious after the first blow or
- 42% of killed seals examined were found to have minimal
or no fractures, suggesting a high probability that these seals were conscious when
The commercial seal hunt bering important economic
Strange as it sounds, the commercial seal hunt is not motivated by
economics. The seal hunt is not economically viable because the cost to conduct the hunt
(ice breaking, helicopters, administration, enforcement, etc.) exceeds the value of the
hunt itself. Furthermore, the income earned from the seal slaughter typically makes up
only 5% of a sealer’s income. As an industry, sealing is
insignificant, accounting for a scant 0.06% of Newfoundland’s gross domestic
The commercial seal hunt has nothing to do with the subsistence sealing of the Inuit
of the far north.
The commercial hunt could not continue without being unwittingly subsidised by the
Seals eat too many fish, especially cod.
have shown that 97% of a seal’s diet is fish other than
cod, many of these being predatory fish that feed on baby cod. If you take away the seals
you increase the number of predators which mean less cod. More seals have always meant
Consider that 200 years ago, there was no commercial seal
hunt. Seals were much more plentiful than now and the cod were so thick you could walk across their backs according to contemporary accounts. The
seal’s mild predation is actually helpful to the cod. The seals preferentially eat
the sickest and weakest cod, which helps the overall health of the schools.
The true causes of cod stock depletion are overfishing and contamination of the
oceans. The seals had nothing to do with that. The seals managed for millions of years
without destroying the stocks.
Much of the seal is utilitised.
Only the skin and
sometimes the penis is taken. The sealers sell the penises to the Chinese who grind the
baculum (penis bone) up for an impotence folk remedy. The seal’s body is left to
rot on the ice. Slaughtering seals serves one primary purpose: fashion. Baby seal skins
make high fashion garments. Seal oil contains high concentrations of
PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenylses),
DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and mercury. It is not safe for consumption.
Seal populations are healthy.
likes to point out that the seal populations are three times what
they were in the 70s. What they don’t tell you is
that the populations are still many times lower than they were before the commercial seal
hunt started, back when the seas were most productive.
Sealing is an important tradition.
commercial sea hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on earth. Each spring
hundreds of men carrying rifles or spiked clubs (hakapiks) invade the harp and hooded
seal nurseries, clubbing and shooting baby seals who are barely weaned and lay helpless
on the ice. If this is a tradition, then the majority of Canadians as well as the world
community believe that is a brutal and bloody tradition and should be ended. We have
given up many other traditional inhumane entertainments, such as scalping, bull baiting,
cock fights, whale sacrifice and dog fights. In 2008 public
outcry banned the hakapik and insisted seals bleed for a minutue before skinning.
This tradition hurts tourism, a far more important industry economically. People in
other countries naturally judge all Canadians as brutal thugs.
CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Video
On 2008-04-16 the CBC aired an incredibly amateurish and biased video on the
seal hunt. It was like something some self indulgent pre-teens would have slopped
together. They mocked Sir Paul McCartney for making an error in local geography and
thereby implying he was too stupid to recognise deliberate cruelty when he saw it. They
showed Newfoundlanders whining that they were misunderstood and it was just too cruel of
the rest of the world to term their hunt barbaric, but by any
objective standard the hunt is barbaric. Nobody would dream of killing
cows or dogs that way! Asking the rest of the world to look the other way is as silly as
asking us to look the other way to a nutcase who blinds horses with an icepick.
Deliberately, needlessly and maliciously torturing mammals is wrong.
Their excuse is morally equivalent to that of a pornographer of snuff videos who tried to
excuse himself because he liked the money. I don’t care how long they have been
doing it or how much money they make from it, or how many sexual jollies or warm fuzzies
they get from it. It is as wrong as slavery or human sacrifice, (similarly justified on
the lame grounds of tradition).
Motive For the Hunt
Since the hunt does not make money, you have to wonder what
motivates so many people, including bloodless bureaucrats, to perpetuate the hunt. Where
have we seen similar behaviour?
The hunt is a sort of manhood ritual. Men get a thrill, a twisted sadistic sexual
pleasure out of brutalising and killing the utterly defenseless. It is nothing to be
proud of. It is not an institution worth preserving. It is part of our shameful barbaric
- Vice President Cheney drunkenly shooting hundreds of domesticated fowl.
- Soldiers raping children in Iraq.
- Drunks shooting cows.
- Bullies in school picking on the weak.
- Massacring the indigenous people of North America.
- As a teen, George Bush inserting firecrackers into frogs.
- Napalming children, burning them alive in Iraq, similarly burning them alive with
Man is like a four year old. He likes to tinker with things long before
he has any understanding of how they work. He has destroyed all manner of habitats by
removing predators such as wolves, large predatory fish and seals, imagining in his
this would increase the productivity. Only recently is science beginning to discover how
such predators are absolutely necessary for the health of ecosystems. The National
Geographic did a documentary on the problem.
What do I want?
Ideally I would like the hunt stopped in its entirety.
Failing that, I want the clubbing of seals banned and skinning alive banned.
Failing that, all government subsidies for the hunt must end. It should totally pay
its way through seal killing licences.
Failing that a world wide ban on all seal products and ostracism of anyone who uses or
sells them. If the hunt is made too expensive to continue by taking away all its
financial backing, perhaps it will stop.
What Can You Do?
Visit the Sea Shepherd Society
for ideas on what you can do. You can participate in various seal product boycotts,
boycotting both the products and anyone who handles them.
Ask the government to stop the subsidy in any form for the seal hunt, including the
costs of regulation.
Write or email your Member of the federal Canadian Parliament or any other Member of Parliament or
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Fax: (613) 941-6900
It is best to hand write your letter. However, in a pinch you can email:firstname.lastname@example.org No postage is required to send a letter to any Member
of Parliament. Only mail sent to the House of Commons in Ottawa (that is, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6) is eligible. Just write the letters O.H.M.S. where you would normally put a
Conservatives don’t yet have an interim leader.
Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the NDP party email@example.com
On 2008-12-27 the Canadian
Federal government announced the hakapik would be banned to avoid the seals being skinned
alive. Sealers are furious. They defend their sadistic way of killing seals purely on the
grounds they have done it that way in the past and they like doing it. However, the
Canadian government bowed to a threat from the EU to ban Canadian seal products entirely
if they did not make the way of killing more humane. Anyone who enjoys killing with a
hakapik is subhuman and deserves to be hacked to death themselves. The sadism of
one’s ancestors is no excuse. Everyone had to give up beating slaves, even whose
families had beat them for generations. It is time to stop deliberate cruelty to seals.
This is not quite the good news it first appears. Hunters are required to shoot seals,
then they can use the hakapik. This allows the hunter to merely wound the seal then
continue hacking at the seal in a sadistic orgy as before.