The Canadian Sealers Association (CSA) was formed in 1982 in response to negative publicity against the sealing industry by some animal rights groups. Based in Atlantic Canada it was designed to speak on behalf of sealers primarily in Newfoundland, the Quebec North Shore and the Magdalen Islands. Its primary focus was to develop an educational and public awareness campaign to counter act the animal rights groups. The CSA represents more than 6,000 sealers who are professional fishers, licensed by the government of Canada. The Association has a volunteer Board of Directors elected from the general membership at an Annual General Meeting. An Executive Committee of the Board provides direction to the Executive Director and support staff at its provincial office.
Economically and Socially Significant
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. Beyond fur, seals are also used to produce meat products and oil products rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The revenues generated from this activity are an integral and vital component of the annual income earned by sealers. This fishery contributes to the diversity of income sources available in fishing communities. In some years, good seal prices or harvests offset lower prices or poor catches in other fisheries.
“When there is a good seal harvest, it can account for up to 30 percent of my salary. Just in the Magdalen Islands there are 900 sealing licences. 900 licences mean 900 families.” Denis Longuépée, Sealer, Magdalen Islands, Quebec.
Over the years, considerable funding has been provided by the government of Canada. The CSA has established working links with many organizations/agencies including governments, private industry (national and international), the academic community and is closely associated with other sealing groups. Since 1982 the Association has expanded its mandate and activities and has become involved in promoting the scientific research of the stocks, improved harvesting and management of the resource and research and development of products and markets. The primary objective of the CSA and the whole industry is the full utilization of each animal harvested. These activities combined with new educational and public awareness efforts have resulted in an assurance of the sustainable development of the resource, exemplary harvesting and management practices with emphasis on humane methods and the production and marketing of quality products on a consistent basis.
As a result of efforts by the CSA in consultation with the government of Canada, the seal harvest is now undertaken with smaller vessels and sealers do not harvest any “baby seals” commonly known as whitecoats and bluebacks. Over the past three years, the industry is growing and improving. The amount of seals harvested are always within the number established by the Dept. of Fisheries & Oceans as the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and from this producers are developing new and exciting products. The quota for 2011 was 335,000 seals of which only 40,000 were taken.