Seal-oil salesman
A joint venture bring ringed seal oil onto the market

Maria Canton
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Jan 31/00) - If all goes well in Asia next month, Canadians may get the chance to benefit from the positive effects of ringed seal oil.

That is the hope of Jerry Ell, president of the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation (QC) -- one of the three companies involved in the joint-venture that is producing the seal oil dietary supplements.

"We're going to a trade show in Hong Kong next month and we'll introduce the (ringed seal capsules) there," said Ell.

"Depending how they are received, we may introduce them in Canada."

The capsules, which are filled with ringed seal fat rendered into oil, contain Omega 3, an agent that helps to reduce cholesterol, keep veins and arteries soft and maintain healthy cell membranes.

While searching for a way to expand the market for Nunavut's seal products beyond the fur and garment industry, Ell says they came up with the idea after seeing harp seal oil capsules from Newfoundland seals.

Now with the first lot of 580 boxes ready to go, Ell says the move will help hunters in Nunavut, and possibly re-vitalize the market for seal products in Canada.

"First we're looking to buy seals from hunters in our region, but this will benefit all hunters in Nunavut if the demand is there," said Ell.

"We are going to Asia first because we believe they are more receptive to dietary supplements and we'll probably have a greater volume of sales there.

"There just isn't enough of a market in southern Canada right now."

The fat for the capsules was taken from seals caught by Qikiqtarjuaq hunters.

After being removed from the seals, it was sent to a factory in Ontario where it was rendered into oil.

The oil was then transported to a second plant, also in Ontario, where it was put into capsules.

Ell says this is just another way of using all parts of the seal after it is killed.

Presently, the fur is used in the garment industry, the meat is sold throughout Nunavut and to some southern retailers, and now the fat can be used as a supplementary product.

The three companies involved -- QC, Sakku Investments and the Makivik Corp. -- believe that with the right marketing campaign, the ringed seal capsules should be successful.

The capsules are one of more than 15 business ventures QC is involved in.