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Study: Ending Seal Hunt Makes Economic Cents; 'It's All Been Tried, With Little Success'

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YARMOUTH PORT, Massachusetts -- On the heels of Fisheries Minister Gail Shea's taxpayer-funded trip to China in attempt to drum up markets for seal products, a new economic analysis indicates that Canadian taxpayers would be much better served by ending the seal hunt altogether.

The study by Dr. John Livernois, which is published in the journal Marine Policy this month, determines that the economic benefits of ending Canada's commercial seal hunt far outweigh the costs. The paper determines that ending commercial sealing would save Canada a minimum of $6.9 million a year.

"Canadians have unwittingly been underwriting the unsuccessful development and marketing of seal products for decades" said Sheryl Fink, Senior Researcher with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW -

Since completion of the economic study, the cost to Canadians of supporting the dying commercial sealing industry has continued to rise, while the economic benefit to sealers continues to plummet. The value of the 2009 seal hunt was the lowest in recent memory, with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reporting a landed value of just over one million dollars. A WTO challenge against a European ban on seal products will cost Canadians an estimated $10 million.

Now, in its desperate attempt to find markets for Canada's dead seals, the federal government is further committing Canadians' taxpayer dollars to renew an aggressive and expensive campaign to develop and market new seal products.

"The fact is that most attempts to market seal products other than fur, which itself is becoming less desirable, have been failures," added Fink. "From seal pepperettes to protein powder, seal thymuses to heart valves, it's all been tried, with little success. There is absolutely no justification for continuing to allow the inhumane slaughter of thousands of seal pups each spring."

Editor's Note: The reference for the economic study is Livernois, J. 2010. The economics of ending Canada's commercial harp seal hunt. Marine Policy 34:1, 42-53.

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