Seal Hunting in the Arctic States. An Analysis of Legislative Frameworks, Incentives and Histories

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online
Nikolas Sellheim
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In the Arctic, where there are seals there are seal hunters. And it is the Arctic states which have been hunting seals for generations. But contrary to other marine mammals, no comprehensive Arctic treaty exists which regulates the hunt for seals. Instead, each Arctic state has developed its own legislative framework for seal hunting. This article screens the current seal hunting legislation in the Arctic states and provides an assessment of the different regimes with regard to animal welfare, professionalism of the hunters and environmental considerations. While there are differences in the set-up of the respective legislation this can be explained by different historical geneses and underlying incentives. Historical developments and the purposes of the seal hunts are therefore discussed in light of current legislation. Lastly, this paper suggests that although a comprehensive sealing treaty in the Arctic is not feasible, close regional cooperation is a crucial element in seal management in the Arctic.

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