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Seals eat Fish: video hammers home devastating impact 10m predators have on fish (and fishermen)

It wasn't until last year that a Canadian Fisheries minister acknowledged the obvious and uttered the words, "seals eat fish." But not only do the estimated 10 million seals off eastern Canada consume millions of tonnes of seafood a year, they also eat fishermen/women out of house and home. This video drives that message home, with renewed calls for action.

Seafood consultant Bob Hardy, a member of the federal government recent Atlantic seal task team, presented the above video on Feb. 25th during SEA-NL's AGM in Gander.

Before playing the video, Bob gave a partial list of more than 24 federal reports and studies since 1990 that have touched on the impact of seals on commercial stocks like cod and capelin.

His point being that the call for yet more seal science is a stalling tactic for more years/decades of inaction.

The federal government held a seal summit in St. John's last fall (one of the recommendations from the Atlantic Seal Task Team).

At the conclusion of the summit Ottawa promised more study to better understand the role of seals in the marine environment.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

The seal situation is insane.


Seals consume millions of tonnes of fish a year, taking massive direct and indirect bites from commercial stocks such as salmon, capelin, cod, snow crab, and shrimp.

SEA-NL passed a resolution during its recent AGM calling on Ottawa to provide a detailed seal action plan within six months.

Here's the resolution.

Resolution 2: Action Plan for Seals

Whereas, the estimated population of various species of seals off Eastern Canada has been pegged at roughly 10 million;

Whereas, the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada recently acknowledged that seals eat fish;

Whereas, the federal government held a Seal Summit in St. John’s in November 2022 that failed to produce a game plan with clear objectives and timelines to deal with the rising seal population;

Whereas, the seal science presented at the Summit was alarming, and clearly incomplete;

Whereas, of the six species of seal in Atlantic Canadian waters, DFO only has recent population estimates for two — harp and grey seals;

Whereas, DFO says there appears to be new "colonies" of grey seals threatening groundfish stocks such as cod in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, as well as “river seals” or animals that take up year-round residence in some rivers;

Whereas, DFO’s leading seal scientist said as late as 2021 that the seal population is not a major factor in declining fish stocks, but the department has since reversed its position;

Whereas, the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery has observed continual decline, fishery closures, moratoriums and quota reductions in practically all commercial fish species.

Whereas, Canada has the largest pinniped population in the world and sits idle while other countries and jurisdictions link seals to the decline of commercial fish stocks;

Be it resolved, that Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as custodial manager of all commercial and recreational fishing activity in inland, coastal and offshore waters including up to 200 miles provide a detailed action plan on seal populations throughout Canada. The specific seal action plan should include the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, as well as Arctic waters, and should be developed and released within a six-month time frame.

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization that serves as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. Visit to join.

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