Shea revealed the plan during a trade mission to China with Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman. “For the most part, our sealing industry derives its income from the sale of pelts,” said Shea, in Beijing during a conference call with reporters, as reported by the CBC. “They don’st get a lot of return from the sale of meat and oil, but what we are hoping to do, because China is such a large market, is work with our industry to support them in developing new products…so there is a lot of optimism in the industry today.”
The deal will take effect Thursday, Jan. 13. The news is promising for Atlantic Canada, where the harp seal population (measured in 2004) is estimated to be between 4.6 and 7.2 million, the CBC reports. However, the sale of seal meat remains controversial both abroad and at home, and the European Union’s ban on imported seal meat from Canada remains intact.