China remains almost the only market for the Canadian seal industry because of a strict ban on seal products in most countries of the world, and is exporting fur, oil and even meat to China. This has resulted in various Chinese and international animal protection groups to appeal to the Chinese government to ban the trade.
The Canadian government has been under severe attack for allowing killing of over two million seals since 2002. Seals are chiefly killed for their pelts but hunters sell their blubber for producing oil used as a health supplement as well as their penises commonly used in East Asia as an aphrodisiac ingredient.
The Campaign Manager of Humane Society International (Canada), Gabriel Wildgen said, “They’re shooting at these seals often in choppy waters with rifles so they often cannot get a clean shot and that means the seals suffer terribly from the bullet wounds until the seal hunters get close enough to finally crush their skulls and finish them off”. Wildgen added, “Sometimes we’ve documented seal hunters skinning seals while they’re still conscious and still moving”.
However, the Canadian government as well as those from the hunting industry argue that the killing is done in humane way, and despite an almost international ban on seal furs, the government has increased hunter’s quota from 400,000 the previous year, to 468,000 in 2015. It has also invested over US$2 million in the form of grants and aiding processing and marketing of seal products in China since the year 2013.
The Canadian seal industry is looking to China because trade in commercial seal products has already been banned by world’s biggest trading blocs like the United States, Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and European Union.
Wildgen said, “There is no other market left except for China and right now”. Wildgen continued, “China is not buying many seal products, but the Canadian government and the last remaining company that’s buying seal pelts are saying publicly that they see China as the last hope for the seal industry to sell products”.
President of Capital Animal Welfare Association, Qin Xiaona said, “It’s something that the EU, US and many other countries have banned, so we should consider if we want to ban and reject it too”. Xiaona said, “This is at the government level. We are also members of the WTO, so we have responsibilities to society and the world, including responsibility on trade that will damage the environment”.