May 12, 2022
Fisheries and Oceans Canada takes next steps on seal management following release of Atlantic Seal Science Task Team Report
Ottawa, Ontario – The Government of Canada values the experiences and expertise of coastal Canadians to help inform the sustainable management and development of our ocean resources. Collaboration is key to ensuring our decisions are based on the best available information.
Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Joyce Murray, announced that Fisheries and Oceans Canada will host a Seal Summit this fall in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, which responds to one of the nine recommendations made by the Atlantic Seal Science Task Team. The Summit will broaden engagement on Atlantic seals and invite collaboration and discussions between scientists, the commercial fishing industry, Indigenous groups, provincial and territorial representatives, academia, stakeholders and environmental non-governmental organizations on science, market development and management approaches.
The Summit is an important step to address recommendations made in a report submitted to Fisheries and Oceans Canada by the Atlantic Seal Science Task Team. The report offers eight other recommendations to the Department regarding its Atlantic seal science priorities, opportunities to increase fishing industry involvement in seal science projects, and ways to better communicate science findings to the fishing industry. This includes adding a section on seal impacts in Fish Stock Rebuilding Plans and Integrated Fisheries Management Plans, where appropriate.
If a harvester is interested in acquiring a licence to harvest seal for commercial purposes, they can get a licence from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and obtain training for a small fee. The Department will explore opportunities with stakeholders and partners, including other government departments and agencies, to further develop the market for Canadian seal products, and will continue to advance its scientific research on seals, guided by recommendations from the Task Team.
“We know seals eat fish, which is why our government established the Atlantic Seal Science Task Team. To build on the Task Team’s important work, we are taking immediate action on some of their recommendations, hosting a seal summit and investigating how to include seal impacts in fisheries management decisions. We will be closely reviewing the remainder of the report. Canada’s fish and seafood sector supports thousands of jobs and is vital to our economy; it has the full support of the federal government behind it.”
The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“I commend my colleague the Honourable Joyce Murray on her recognition there is an issue with seals in Atlantic Canada. Established by the then Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in 2019, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, the Atlantic Seal Science Task Team’s report makes it clear we must do more to understand the impacts of seal predation. I am glad to support a whole-of-government approach to address the challenges of seal predation and the opportunities of studying the marketability of seal products.”
The Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development