Only 306 sealing enterprises from Newfoundland and Labrador have taken part in this year's hunt, compared with 977 last year, according to Larry Yetman, a resource management officer with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The prices have fallen in anticipation of the European ban on seal products that will officially pass tomorrow in the European Parliament.
"Europe has saved the seals," said Lamya Essemlali, President of Sea Shepherd France.
"I am so damn proud to be a European today," said Peter Hammarstedt of Sweden. Peter was arrested last year in Canada for the "crime" of witnessing and documenting the slaughter of the seals.
This ban will shut down shipment points in the Netherlands and Germany. While Canada's largest markets for seal products, such as Russia, China and Norway, are outside the EU, sealing industry experts know that the European ban will curb the demand for seal fur from the fashion industry and disrupt shipping routes. Ottawa estimates the EU ban could cut in half the already paltry $13 million annual value of the seal hunt.
In a last ditch effort to win support, Canada sent off a team of five Inuit seal hunters to appeal to the European Parliament. The Inuit however have been given an exemption for their 10,000 seals killed annually but they are not satisfied with this, and have chosen to ally themselves with the brutal mass slaughter of the commercial sealers of Eastern Canada. Despite the last-ditch campaign by the five-strong Inuit delegation, UK Member of the European Parliament Arlene McCarthy is confident the new law will be adopted on Tuesday.
In an earlier statement, McCarthy, who put forward alternative amendments for a full ban following the defeat of proposals for a less restrictive labeling regime by UK Liberal MEP Diana Wallis, said, "We are determined to deliver this new law, which will be a victory for people power and a credit to the campaigners involved."
McCarthy continued, "The vast majority of people across Europe are horrified by the cruel clubbing to death of seals and this law will finally put an end to the cruel cull of nearly 300,000 seals a year.
"We have worked extremely hard over recent weeks in the face of heavy lobbying from countries that export this cruel trade. We took a tough line and are happy that the council and commission have backed our call for a ban.
"The original proposal for a weak regime of labeling of products put forward by the Lib Dem rapporteur, Diana Wallis, was roundly defeated in committee and we are now on track to get a full ban."
What is amazing is that this insignificant industry worth only $13 million is being used by Canada to threaten a 25 billion dollar trade agreement between Canada and the European nations.
"Canadian politicians are not thinking with their heads," said Captain Watson. "They have their noses out of joint because their darling barbaric little industry is on the road to being abolished. They are responding hysterically, irrationally and they are not acting in the interests of all Canadians."
In all of Canada only one politician has had the courage and the vision to oppose the slaughter. That man is Senator Mac Harb.
After years of opposition, the end of the commercial seal slaughter is in sight.
"I have opposed the slaughter since I was a child and I have opposed the slaughter on the ice since 1975," said Captain Paul Watson. "We have demonstrated that by sheer stubborn persistence that we can win out over entrenched political opposition. I have been fined, beaten, jailed, and threatened for three decades in defense of these wonderful animals and it has been worth it, and to see the sealing industry devastated like this is better than winning the lottery. I am more than pleased, I am ecstatic."
This victory has been brought about by decades of tireless campaigning by members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the Humane Society of the United States, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Harp Seals.org, ARAN, and so many other organizations around the world.