The Centre Party of Norway believes the government has bowed to pressure from the EU and extreme animal rights groups. They also argue the proposed budget cut will have consequences for the seal hunting industry.
State secretary Amund Ringdal of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, said to NTB: “Seal hunting businesses are run by 80 percent subsidies. When they are removed, the consequences will clearly be big. But we cannot say whether it's the final nail in the coffin for Norwegian seal hunting.”
In the Budget proposal, the economic support of 12 million kroner ($1.8 million) currently given to Norwegian seal hunting will be cut from next year. This year, only three boats participated in the catch of 11,980 seals.
Geir Pollestad, of the Centre Party and leader of the business committee in Parliament, believes the removal of government support will mean the end of a business that is already weak.
Pollestad said: “In reality the government gave in to pressure from extreme animal rights organisations and the EU and did not have an understanding of the historical roots of seal hunting and its role in the management of ecosystems.”
State secretary Amund Ringdal rejected that the resolution has anything to do with the relationship to the EU.
He said: “This is simply about economic priorities.”
Ringdal said: “The Norwegian Institute of Marine Research has however claimed that the catching of harp seals has been so modest that it hasn't had any great impact on the population [of harp seal] as such. The argument for the role of seal hunting for ecology is thus dwindling.”
The League of Norwegian Fishermen (Norges Fiskarlag) called the budget cut dramatic and historic.
League leader, Kjell Ingebrigtsen, said: “The seal hunting business is going to become extinct if the proposition on a cut in support of 12 million kroner is voted in.”
He indicated the long historical tradition that seal hunting has in Norway.
He said to Kyst og Fjord (Coast and Fjord) magazine: “We have a unique hunting tradition that may now see its end with the stroke of a pen.”
Animal rights organizations are pleased government financial support for seal hunting has been removed.
Animal rights protestors from NOAH agree with the cuts. Siri Martinsen from NOAH said: “The seal hunting subsidies are a typical example of tax payers' money being used in a meaningless way. One has paid for the seals to be killed, paid for their skin to be sold, and in some cases also paid for their skin to be destroyed.”
Martinsen believes protecting the animals is also a good reason for cutting the subsidies.