The prospects for future sealing in the North Atlantic have been discussed by the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission (JNRFC) in recent years. There are concerns over the current lack of ability on both the Norwegian and Russian side to fulfill given seal quotas. Also, the multispecies perspective of seal management is a matter of concern in the two countries. The main problem for the sealing industry in the last 2-3 decades has been the market situation. Protest activities initiated by several Non-governmental Organizations in the 1970s destroyed many of the old markets for traditional seal products which were primarily the skins. The results have been reduced profitability which subsequently resulted in reduction in available harvest capacity (e.g., the availability of ice-going vessels) and effort. With the present reduced logistic harvest capacity in Norway and Russia it is impossible to take out catches that would stabilize the stocks at their present levels. Unless sealing again becomes profitable, it is likely that this situation will prevail. In September 2003, the symposium “Prospects for future sealing activities in the North Atlantic” was held in Archangelsk, Russia with participation from Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia. The meeting was successful, and it was decided that a new symposium should be arranged.
This report summarizes all presentations and the discussions fromthe symposium in Tromsø, Norway, 25 - 26 August 2008.