Seal management on Canada’s East Coast


The Government of Canada is committed to supporting a sustainable, humane and well-regulated seal harvest that supports Canada’s Indigenous, rural and coastal communities. The harvesting of white coats is illegal in Canada and has been since 1987.

Six species of seals are found on the East Coast of Canada (bearded, grey, harbour, harp, hooded and ringed), but only three species are harvested commercially (grey, harp, and hooded). The annual commercial harvest in Quebec and Atlantic Canada is predominantly grey and harp seals.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s approach to seal management is the same as it is for all fisheries: to ensure that populations remain healthy.

Grey and harp seal populations are in the healthy zone at 424,300 and 7.6 million animals, respectively.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada does not assign a Total Allowable Catch (quota) for the Atlantic seal harvest, as participation in the seal harvest, and the market demand for seals, is low. The number of animals harvested continues to be well within sustainable levels.

A licence is required to harvest seals in Canada, but the barrier to entry is low. Harvesters can obtain a licence from DFO for a small fee and complete training to ensure that seals are harvested humanely. In 2021, 4,832 commercial seal licences were issued in Eastern Canada. 

May 2022

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