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New Seal Hunting Amendments:

December 27, 2008 - Amendments were released and are active as of this date

In an effort to thwart a complete European ban on sealing products the Department of Fisheries and Ocean made some amendments to current seal hunting regulations.

On the surface these new regulations give off the illusion that seal hunting will be performed in a humane manner, but the truth is that the regulations will change next to nothing. We will post the regulations, with our comments in bold.



1. (1) The definition “blinking reflex test” in subsection 2(1) of the Marine Mammal Regulations (see footnote 1) is repealed.

(2) Subsection 2(1) of the Regulations is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:

“crushed”, with respect to a skull, means that the cranium has been broken so that it does not present a solid structure on either the right or left half when palpated; (écrasé)

“palpate” means to examine the right and left halves of the cranium by pressing it by hand from the top; (palpation)

2. Subsections 28(2) to (4) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

(1.1) No person shall use a club or hakapik to strike a seal older than one year unless the seal has been shot with a firearm.

(2) Every person who strikes a seal with a club or hakapik shall strike the seal on the top of the skull until it has been crushed and shall immediately palpate the cranium to confirm that the skull has been crushed.

The main problem with this is that sealers do not target seals over 1 year of age. Sealers target baby seals that are over 3 weeks of age  (old enough to shed their white coats) In essence this new regulation changes nothing. 99%+ of clubbed seals are under 1 year of age. This rule looks good on paper to people who are unaware of how old the seals being hunted are. 

(3) If a firearm is used to fish for a seal, the person who shoots the seal or retrieves it shall palpate the cranium as soon as possible after it is shot to confirm that the skull has been crushed.

This looks good on paper but it would be nearly impossible to enforce. 

(4) Every person who palpates the cranium of a seal and determines that the skull is not crushed shall immediately strike the seal with a club or hakapik on the top of its skull until the skull has been crushed.

This is nothing different then what transpires now. The term immediately is loose and can be interpreted differently based on the sealer.

3. Section 29 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

29. No person shall skin a seal until the skull has been crushed and at least one minute has elapsed after the two axillary arteries of the seal located beneath its front flippers have been severed to bleed the seal.

A step in the right direction that addresses the problem of some seals being skinned alive which is one of the main objections the European Union had. This amendment was introduced to appease the European Union. Regardless its a positive development. But again this would be nearly impossible to enforce.

4. The table to paragraph 37(d) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:


North Latitude

West Longitude













5. The portion of item 6 of Schedule V to the French version of the Regulations in column I is replaced by the following:


Colonne I Espèce de phoques


Éléphant de mer


6. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.


'Cost-benefit statement: Implementing the proposal would help to maintain market access for an industry with a present export value of $13M. The costs of implementation are estimated to be between $1.8M to $3.6M. These costs are associated with increased costs to sealers (fuel, crew wages, vessel maintenance, failure to attain allowable catch, lost opportunity to engage in other fisheries/employment), to fisheries management and enforcement (vessel time, aircraft, observer deployment, dockside monitoring) and to Coast Guard (maintaining dedicated search and rescue capability).

The proposal makes it possible to maintain an important economic activity for the coastal people of Canada. It would also align itself with the latest veterinary advice and recommendations, requests of the European Union (EU), and concerns from animal welfare groups.'

At least they are honest as to why they passed these new 'regulations'  it has nothing to do with animal welfare. It's all about giving the illusion of policing the hunt as to prevent Europe from banning seal products as to protect an industry that is apparently worth 13 million. 

Implementation of the proposed Regulations and associated conditions of licence would require very specific practices to be carried out by the sealers. This in turn requires training for thousands of sealers. For 2009, a training program is being implemented beginning with workshops, development of training tools, and the delivery of a series of pilot training sessions.

To enhance enforcement, DFO plans to implement remote camera monitoring of the 2009 seal harvest. The system requires reliable remote stable imaging using a helicopter-mounted camera. The leasing of the equipment and the helicopter, installation, and training is expensive but is expected to result in a highly enhanced capability for remote surveillance. Existing surveillance equipment would also require upgrading. Enforcement would be supported by a dedicated Coast Guard icebreaker presence.

Having the seal hunt regulated and enforced is a very positive development.  We can only recommend the following for this to be taken seriously:

1. The Seal Hunt Protection Act has to be amended to describe fines and prison terms for sealers who do not abide by these regulations.

2. The Seal Hunt Protection Act has to be amended to allow the media and animal rights groups to be able to openly film the hunt without fear of  prosecution. Independent third parties are needed to verify that these amendments are being followed.

Lastly the government has to address the overall unsustainability of the hunt. There has been no research behind the number of seals that are allowed to be killed each year or how these figures are reached. 

Also, why do some of the rules only apply to seals that are one year of age or older? The rules need to apply to all seals regardless of age otherwise a sealer can claim that he was unaware of the age of the seal. When the amendment applies to all seals only then can it be taken seriously.

Full amendmends available here




Amendments to Seal Hunt - The Facts
Witnessing of Seal Hunt Prohibited
Blog & Website Owners can now Help
2007 Kill Quota Announced
March 15th: International Seal Hunt Protest Day
Beyond Misinformation & Canadian Ecological Destruction
Europe to Ban Seal Products
Companies Profiting from the Hunt
2006 Death Toll is 335 000
Canadian Injustice
WWF Defends Pro Sealing Stance
Shame On Costco
Over 1 Million Seals Killed
Paid for by Tax Dollars
Skinned Alive
Scapegoats for Overfishing

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