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FFAW-Unifor Responds to the Senate of Canada's Report on Canada’s Seal Populations and Their Effect on Canada’s Fisheries

May 23, 2024

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans released its report on Canada’s seal populations and their effect on Canada’s fisheries today, titled Sealing the Future: A Call to Action. The Fish, Food, and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor), participated in the study in September 2023 as one of the sixty witnesses that were invited to provide evidence before the Senate Committee while they were in St. John’s.

FFAW’s remarks for the study centered on the need to improve our understanding of seal impacts, highlighting harvesters’ frustration regarding the lack of commitment from DFO to dedicate resources to study the impact of seal predation on important species like capelin and Atlantic cod. FFAW emphasized that, from a fisheries perspective, there is a need for federal government to consider seal predation in groundfish rebuilding plans, and to work more collaboratively with our industry to integrate at-sea observations into that developing science to better inform fisheries management and resource removal.

“FFAW’s position in this report, as it has been with the others before it, is that of an ecosystem management approach that serves to develop a federal framework to mitigate the impacts of seal predation and promotes biodiversity in our oceans”, said FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “Our Union continues to express our commitment to work with federal government in any capacity to be a responsible regulator, and it is time for the Government of Canada to commit to end the indifference and inaction to seal overpopulation that has become, unfortunately, normalized.”

This report is the third released since 2022 focused on the impacts of seal overpopulation, with the Atlantic Seal Task Team Report being released in 2022, followed by the Seal Summit in November of that year, and then the release of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans’ report on Seal Overpopulation in December 2023. FFAW contributed to each study, and while there is overlap in recommendations, the underlining of urgency for population management, and, most strikingly, the recommendation for modifications to the Income Tax Act make Sealing the Future distinct. This recommendation would ensure that registered charities and non-profit organizations that produce or promote misinformation about the Canadian seal harvest and seal products would have their tax-exempt status revoked.

“This recommendation is the first that acknowledges the great injustice that has been done to the sealing industry that has had immeasurable damage to coastal communities. These donation-driven organizations cannot continue to villainize and lie about the sealing industry and receive tax benefits to do it. This recommendation is the first that would demonstrate real advocacy from the Government of Canada to address the propaganda-for-profit that is the root cause of the import ban for sealers that has created the overpopulation issue for harvesters,” Pretty concludes.

Click HERE to read Sealing the Future: A Call to Action.

Click HERE for information on FFAW’s Seal Species Distribution, Abundance, and Seasonality Project.