Seal market

Learn what seal products are used in Canada and exported around the world.

Seal products in Canada

Seal pelts are transformed into a wide range of final sealskin products including coats, vests, hats, ties, boots, mittens, trims, and seal leather items. Sealskin garments are both warm and waterproof, making them practical and prized in Canada’s harsh northern regions. Sealskin is a natural product harvested from a sustainable natural resource.

Seal meat is sold in a variety of raw and prepared forms for both human and animal consumption. It constitutes an important part of the Inuit diet and is also a traditional food in many Atlantic coastal communities.

Seal oil is used in Omega 3 health products, which are sold in Canada and abroad. Also, seal oil continues to be used for fuel in northern and Inuit communities.

Global market

Canada has been the largest global exporter of seal products for decades. However, uncertainty in global markets and market access restrictions in the European Union (EU) and other jurisdictions has negatively impacted exports in recent years. While Canada challenged the EU ban through the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement process, the WTO ruling allowed the overall ban to remain in place, leaving the Indigenous communities exemption as the only means for Canadian seal products to access the European market.

The Government of Canada is committed to maintaining existing markets for Canadian seal products and supporting the development of potential new markets. The Government of Canada worked closely with the Government of Nunavut and the Government of the Northwest Territories to support their efforts to achieve Recognized Body status with the EU. This will allow seal products harvested by Inuit in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories access to the European market under the Indigenous communities exemption.

To meet the requirements set by the European Union, the Government of Canada has established a program to invest $5.7 million over 5 years to support the development of systems to certify seal products resulting from hunts traditionally conducted by Indigenous communities, and to provide business advice and training to help Indigenous communities develop effective business practices. Additionally, this investment will support the efforts of the broader sealing industry to increase market access opportunities.