The importance of the seal harvest

Learn about the economic, social and cultural importance of the seal harvest to Canada.

Economic importance

Canadian seal harvesters, processors, artisans and Inuit produce some of the finest quality seal products in the world and contribute to Canada’s economy. In 2006, the total landed value of the seal harvest reached an historic high of $34.1 million. This historic high value had a trickle-down effect in other sectors of the economy.

In Canada’s remote coastal and northern communities, sealing is an important part of the way of life and a much needed source of income for thousands of families. The revenues generated from this activity are an integral component of sealers’ annual income. This fishery also contributes to the diversity of income sources available in fishing communities.

Social and cultural importance

Seals have been harvested for food, fuel, clothing and other products for hundreds of years. In addition to their economic value, seal products hold a significant cultural and traditional value to northern communities, which is of key importance to the Government of Canada. Indigenous peoples in Canada have a constitutionally-protected right to harvest marine mammals, including seals, as long as the harvest is consistent with conservation needs and other requirements.

Why Canada supports the seal harvest

The Canadian government believes in the sustainable use of a renewable resource such as the harp seal. As with all Canadian fisheries, Fisheries and Oceans Canada supports and regulates the seal harvest and is committed to ensuring it is sustainable and conducted safely and humanely. The Canadian seal harvest is one of the world’s most highly regulated and monitored harvests of wild animals. It is an important economic and cultural activity in communities in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the Arctic.