Canada Seal Hunt Takes a Clubbing

The brutal annual slaughter of Canada’s harp seals may be gasping its last breaths this year. Though the Canadian government set the seal quota at 273,000 when the season opened in March, the hunt closed in June with 70,000 seals being killed, BBC News reported.

Fishermen's livelihoods are largely sustained by fishing, not seal hunting, which occurs during the off-season. They blame the low number of seal kills on the E.U. seal product ban, effective summer 2010, as well as the cascading price of seal pelts, which has fallen to $12 per pelt this year from $100 a few years ago. Waning international markets for seal products are also deemed responsible, as the recession grips major pelt importers like China and Russia.

Canadian fisheries officials are calling the future of the hunt "an uphill battle," while many fisherman are left wondering if the gory, centuries-old practice has finally been frozen out.