DILDO, N.L. - A seal processing plant in Newfoundland will get a $3.6 million loan from the provincial government this year.
Fisheries Minister Derrick Dalley says the money for Carino Processing Ltd. will allow the Dildo facility to buy seal pelts and blubber from this year's hunt.
The government offered a loan of the same amount last year to Carino Processing, but the company only borrowed $2 million.
The government says that's because poor ice conditions hampered the hunt last year, adding that the loan has since been repaid.
Dalley reiterated the government's position that seal hunt is humane and sustainable, a statement that animal welfare groups strongly contest.
Humane Society International swiftly condemned the loan as a wasteful subsidy intended to prop up a dying business.
"Instead of providing financing to a doomed industry, our governments, both provincial and federal, should be pursuing a one-time buyout of the commercial sealing industry," Rebecca Aldworth, a spokeswoman for the group, said in a news release Wednesday.
"That plan would put more money into the pockets of Canadian fishermen than the seal hunt ever could, and it would be a just and graceful way to remove the international stigma of being one of the last nations in the world to support commercial sealing."
But Dalley said the seal hunt is crucial to the long-term stability of fish stocks.
"Coupled with the fact that opportunities for the seal products undoubtedly exist, our government is pleased to once again provide financial assistance supporting the long-term viability of this industry," he said in a statement.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has yet to set this year's total allowable catch.