Gwendolyn
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
28-Mar-2011
Hi, I would just like to say I am a proud Canadian who fully supports the seal hunt. I'm writing a position paper on the seal hunt for a class. I'm wondering if any one can answer a few questions for me. Exactly how much of a hit would individual families take if the seal hunt were to be stopped? How many families would be affected, and what kind of an income does the average sealer make every year? What do you guys do for work in the off season? I really want to get kind of a day in the life of a sealer perspective to show how important this is and what a big industry it has become for Canada.
Hi Gwendolyn,

It is actually very difficult to do an economic analysis regarding the seal hunt or even to say what the impact would be exactly if this or that happened. It is also very difficult to illustrate what the affects will be on individuals based on the varying degree which those are involved.

Historically the most valuable resource from the hunt was the blubber which was made into industrial oil but today it is the pelts. The blubber is still used in part for industrial oil but mainly for health supplements. From year to year pelts range in price. In, I believe it was, 2006 sealers were getting over $100 per pelt but last year they were getting $15 per pelt. This greatly affects the number of sealers taking part and how much of the sealers annual income comes from sealing. On top of all that you have different types of sealers, there are inshore, smaller boat sealers and offshore larger boat sealers. The sealers in the larger boats will take more seals in a season than the inshore sealers thus garnering more income from a particular season but their expenses are far greater. The impact on an individual sealer can also be as simple as geographic location. If the herd is in one area and the sealer in another they will have to move to the herd and depending on the ice conditions this may not be possible. There are so many factors. If you ever hear/see anyone giving hard and fast numbers relating to the economic value of the seal hunt, they are misleading people. In my opinion, the true value of the seal hunt could only be measured over a long period, say 10 years.

All that being said, there are 12,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador alone who are legally permitted to participate in the seal hunt. During peak seasons it has been reported that roughly 6000 participate. Of course this does not include Maritime province sealers or those from Quebec. It has been said that sealing makes up anywhere from 5%-35% of a sealers annual income. I would imagine the large variance is due to the points I made above.

In regards to the life of a sealer, sealers, for the most part, are actually professional fishermen first and sealers second. Sealing is off season work. A friend of mine describes it thusly, picture the family income of a sealer as a mosaic, you have fishing, sealing, other hunting and gardening to offset food costs and some crafting and other odd jobs. All this makes up a reasonable income but if you take away part of that mosaic the rest has a very real potential of falling apart.

Also, when you look at the economic benefits of sealing one has to consider the peripheral benefits to suppliers, grocers, etc, all the businesses sealers buy things from, businesses which sometimes teeter on the edge of existence because of the poor economy in the areas they exist.

Lastly, if you are taking a look at sealing in an economic light you have to consider the economic state of the seal hunt if animal rights groups were not attacking it on that level. Effectively the economic situation in the seal hunt is what's known in propaganda circles as a strawman. Strawman is explained as a situation the attacker utilizes which has been created by the attacker. It would be like if I didn't want a popular park to exist because I wanted to develop something on it so I put up all kinds of obstacles to hinder people from getting to it and for those who actually get to the park, I make their stay unbearable from noise or what have you. As use of the park diminishes I come along and say, let me develop a parking lot here because the park isn't being used anyway, it's a waste of money in its present state. I have effectively created the reasons for furthering my end goals and this is what animal rights groups have done in every way, shape and form regarding the seal hunt. The seal hunt could have, would have and still can be very economically sound without the misleading attacks by animal rights groups.

If you have any other questions don't hesitate to send them along. Good luck on your paper!

Cheers,
Mike
 
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