A somewhat softer market and harder ice conditions are temporarily keeping some sealers ashore while others are staying out of the hunt altogether for this year.
Executive director of the Canadian Sealers Association Frank Pinhorn says Carino Processing Ltd. is offering $35 a pelt like last year but will buying fewer pelts overall due to a softer market.
“It’s a little bit soft compared to last year and the market for most wild fur and farm-raised fur is sort of a little bit soft,” he said.
According to Pinhorn, Carino will be looking for 60,000 pelts. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages the 400,000 seal quota, but ice and weather conditions are going to have to change before some sealers are able to get out at the hunt.
“I still hear from Cape Bauld down the west coast the ice is close to land and a lot of them aren’t out yet,” said Pinhorn.
Leo Seymour of Harbour Round usually takes part in the hunt, but not this year. The harbour in his community has been choked with ice depending on the direction of winds. He said a bigger boat than his 34-11 is needed to get anything out of the hunt this year.
“I s’pose some fellers takes a chance on it. Some fellers might have 1,500 or a couple of thousand seals so it’s not so bad. But if you’re only getting a couple of hundred seals it’s not even worth fuelling up your boat for. You can’t even pay your expense,” he said.
Weather conditions, too, are tough out at the Front. Seymour has been speaking with one sealer who was out there.
“It’s wicked. It’s wicked. Bad days. Blowing gales and then the fog and everything. And the ice is so heavy.”
With the forecast likely to blow ice into the harbour again shortly, Seymour figured he’ll have to wait to get his crab pots in the water, too.