NOAH: - A dramatic turn of events for Norwegian seals

In December 2014 the Norwegian Parliament cut the subsidies (12 million NOK) that kept the seal hunting alive. But the last week the Norwegian Fisheries Minister announced that he would give 2 million NOK (around 210 000€) to the seal hunt - against the vote of the parliament on the government budget for 2016.

- There’s no reason that Norwegian taxpayers ́money should subsidize the seal hunt, where animals are killed in a highly objectionable manner, and mainly for their skin - to make products nobody wants. This is a dramatic turn of events for Norwegian seals, and NOAH will work to stop the subsidies again to prevent the suffering this hunt imposes on the seals, said NOAH ́s leader and veterinarian Siri Martinsen.

The seal industry has survived for many years on heavy subsidies (around 80% of income). The government subsidy amounts to roughly 1,000 kroner (110 euro, $136) per animal. Around 12,000 seals are hunted and killed each year in Norway. Most often they are first shot with rifle from the boat, then clubbed to death with a ''hakapik''. Younger seals may be clubbed to death directly. With deteriorating ice conditions it also becomes common practice to according to drag the seals on board with a hook - before they are bled. This practice is even criticized by the Directorate of Fisheries in Norway.

- NOAH has protested against the clearly inhumane methods of killing seals for a long time, but even though some of the methods are even criticized by official agencies, the inhumane practices are still allowed because the hunters themselves claim they cannot hunt without i.e. using the hook, says Martinsen.

The United States and Mexico banned seal products as early as 1972 , and since 2009 the EU and Russia (in 2011) banned import of seal products. The EU went further in 2015 and strengthen the ban removing the exception ''involving the protection of fish stocks'', according to this new ban only Inuits from Canada are allowed to hunt seal but only if their hunting methods observe animal welfare. NOAH was actively involved in securing the EU-ban on seal products:

- Many countries have taken a stand against the unnecessary and inhumane killing of seals for fur, but at the same time Norwegians are forced to pay for such a hunt. Even many Norwegians want the hunt to stop - 41% are against the hunt, whereas 32% reply to be in favor of it. When it comes to the subsidies, however, 64% are against and only 13 % in favor, says Martinsen.

Both the Norwegian fishing industry and the seal hunter association argued that the seal hunt is necessary to preserve fish livestock and to balance the eco-system, but scientist (Ulf Lindstrøm) at Tromsø’s Institute of Marine Research disproved this argument :

“These animals don’t have that potential growth that you have in other species. (...) Marine mammals, they get one pup, so it’s not like it just will explode. It takes time to build up the stock.”1


Contact: NOAH - for animal rights, veterinarian Siri Martinsen


  1. 2015/05/tromso-says-goodbye-seal-hunt-long-lasting-local-tradition-27-05