06/12/2015 09:21 EDT | Updated 06/12/2016 05:59 EDT

East Coast Seal Hunt Catch Is The Lowest In Two Decades

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CANADA - MARCH 23: A young Harp Seal on a beach on March 23, 2010 on Prince Edward Island in the Northern Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada. This year has been the worst ice year on record in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, meaning that a record number of seal pups are expected to die. Each year hunters travel to the region to hunt the seals for their fur. The IFAW (The International Fund for Animal Welfare) have been documenting the ice conditions in Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and discovered that few pups remain. Harp seals need ice for giving birth, nursing and resting, and seal mortality is expected to be very high this year as a result of the poor ice conditions. (Photo by Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - The federal Fisheries department says fewer than 40,000 seals were landed during this year's East Coast commercial hunt, making it one of the lowest on record.

There were just over 38,000 harp seals and about 1,100 grey seals hunted, mostly off the coasts of Newfoundland and Quebec.

A provincial loan of up to $1 million helped Newfoundland's only buyer this year -- PhocaLux International Incorporated -- purchase about 35,000 seals.

General Manager Shannon Lewis says demand for seal fur products and meat is up across Canada.

But the industry is hampered by seal product import bans in Europe, the United States, Mexico and other countries.

Rebecca Aldworth of Humane Society International-Canada says this year's catch is the lowest in two decades and the commercial hunt should be phased out.

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