Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Activists pressured China into nixing seal-meat deal, Fisheries Minister says

A seal hunter drags a harp seal back to his snowmobile during the annual seal hunt on a ice floe in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on April 2, 2005.


Fisheries Minister Gail Shea is blaming animal-rights activists for pressuring the Chinese government to back away from a trade deal to sell Canadian seal meat.

Shea says groups opposed to the hunt continue to spread misinformation.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has been campaigning to end the hunt since 1969, and has an office in China.

Story continues below advertisement

But its director of Canadian wildlife says it doesn't have as much influence as Shea would like to believe.

"Looking back at the record, it looks like the Canadian government has been promising Chinese markets for seal products since at least 1985," Sheryl Fink said in an interview Monday. "It's just not a product that people want to buy."

As well, Fink said the Chinese public is aware of what happens in Canada's commercial seal hunt largely because of work done by home-grown animal welfare groups, not Canadian interlopers.

"People are becoming more aware on their own now," she said. "People [in China] have Internet access and can see what's happening for themselves."

Shea announced a trade deal with China in 2011, but it's been stalled since the Chinese government said it had called for a review of the agreement.

The annual East Coast seal hunt began on Monday.

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Please note that our commenting partner Civil Comments is closing down. As such we will be implementing a new commenting partner in the coming weeks. As of December 20th, 2017 we will be shutting down commenting on all article pages across our site while we do the maintenance and updates. We understand that commenting is important to our audience and hope to have a technical solution in place January 2018.

Discussion loading… ✨