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Humane & Professional

Canada's world-leading animal welfare standards, codes of practice, training and licensing programs ensure humane harvesting and the highest quality products.

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Among the best practices in the world

It has often been stated the the Canadian seal hunt is the most heavily scrutinized hunt in the world. The frequent presence of protestors, anti-sealing groups, and media outlets since the 1970s has drawn worldwide attention to the hunt and its practices.

Animal Welfare

“ Canadian harvesting practices are among the best in the world. They are guided by rigorous animal welfare principles that are internationally recognized by independent observers. ”

- Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Training & licensing

  • Professional sealers are required by law to be trained in the  three-step process humane killing of seals. Completion of this training is mandatory before the renewal of a seal fishing licence.
  • Seal harvesters are also trained to assess the health of seals as they are brought onboard sealing vessels.
  • Quality/Health/Handling training workshops are also mandatory for commercial sealers. A Code of practice, developed in consultation with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, focuses on the quality assurance which is necessary for export certification of seal meat and oil.

Quick Facts

The seal harvest is tightly regulated, closely monitored and strictly enforced. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring a safe, well-managed and humane seal harvest.


The amount of whitecoats harvested since 1987.


The amount of sealers that primarily use rifles.  The remaining 30% of sealers use both rifles and hakapiks (or clubs), which also represents a safety tool in order to protect oneself on the ice.


The percentage of compliance rate with the MMR based on approximately 3,000 fishery officer inspections over the last five years.


5 rules are being enforced by Fishery officers during Sealing Activities in Canada:

  1. the three-step process and regulated tools for humanely harvesting seals
  2. the ban on harvesting whitecoat and blueback seals
  3. accurate reporting of landings and quota compliance
  4. the licensing requirements for harvesters
  5. the required distance to be maintained between observers and sealing activities

Fisheries officers monitor the seal hunt 24/7 during the open season. The RCMP, Quebec provincial police, and at-sea observers are also engaged to monitor the hunt and enforce the Marine Mammal Regulations.


Sustainability & Ecosystem Balance

The annual seal harvest contributes to marine biodiversity protection by supporting the conservation of fish and other marine species.

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Culture & Livelihood

Sealing is a vital activity for ten of thousands of rural Canadians throughout the country. Seal hunt sustains northern and coastal communities nutritionally, culturally and economically.

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Many national and international conservation organizations have expressed their support of seal harvesting in Canada.

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