Apr 01

Nova Scotia seal hunt a non-event due to lack of pelt demand

Nova Scotia seal hunt falls as demand for pelts plummets to zero.

The Nova Scotia seal hunt isn’t dead yet, but local fishermen have admitted it has become a non-event.

Robert Courtney, a Dingwall fisherman and spokesman for the North of Smokey-Inverness South Fishermen’s Association, said even though heavy ice conditions this winter would hamper the hunt, no one from northern Cape Breton is out sealing this year.

“We’re not participating this year,” he said. “The market situation is not good. Unless things change, there won’t be too much of a hunt this year.

“If market conditions improve, I’m sure we’ll be back into her.” Click here to Tweet about it!

Nova Scotia seal hunt

Nova Scotia seal hunt: – Paul Darrow, A seal hunter swings a hakapik at a grey seal during the first day of the hunt on Hay Island, Nova Scotia, February 24, 2011

The grey seal season is now open and the harp seal hunt is expected to be announced soon.

Courtney said seals eat a lot of fish and Ottawa needs to help fishermen by opening up international markets or instituting a cull.

“Basically, we’ve been waiting for the federal government to come out with something to do with the seals, because they’re basically eating us out of house and home,” he said.

“We need some assistance to open up the markets, or a cull, or some way to do something with those animals. We prefer marketing, but if we can’t do the markets, then our suggestion is to do the same as they did with the wolves in B.C.

“If you can’t get the markets, then go and do a cull.”

Willie Murphy, a fisherman in Port Hood, Inverness County, said he was able to get a few grey seals this year, but the Gulf of St. Lawrence is full of ice and there aren’t a lot of options for selling the catch.

“I haven’t got too many (seals),” he said Tuesday. “It’s a slow go.”

International markets for seal meat and pelts have been drying up, restricting the number of buyers and the price fishermen receive for the harvest.

And the business model in the fishery is always a tough one.

Murphy said one of the difficulties is that fishermen go out on the Nova Scotia seal hunt and come back with their catch, and then wait to get paid.

And they don’t know what they will be paid, either.

“Any fishery is the same,” he said. “The minimum is probably like two weeks after you bring anything in before you know how much you’re going to get paid for it.

“You hear a lot of rumours, but when you actually get paid for it, it’s a different story.”

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which regulates the seal hunt, says the harp seal population in the Atlantic region is estimated at 7.4 million animals. There are about 600,000 hooded seals, with 10,000 of those in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and about 505,000 grey seals.

Over the last several years, fishermen have harvested around a sixth of the total allowable catch for harp seals, partly due to ice conditions and partly due to limited markets.

Read more about our coalition and moves to shut down markets. 

The quota for harp seals is 400,000. In 2013, 94,000 were harvested. The previous year, 71,000 harp seals were caught, and only 38,000 in 2011.

The federal government says despite annual allowable catches of 60,000 grey seals, only 106 were harvested in 2013.

Most seals are caught off Newfoundland and Labrador.

Click For A Shocking Info-graphic on Namibia’s Seal Hunt

Please note article was taken from source.