20/04/2016 18:24 BST | Updated 20/04/2016 18:36 BST

Canadian Seal Hunt Footage Released By Humane Society International

'Baby seals, just weeks of age, are shot multiple times.'

Warning: Graphic content

Animal welfare campaigners have released footage of the "horrific cruelty" seals are subjected to during Canada's controversial annual hunt. 

Graphic images show injured seals struggling on the blood-soaked ice before being bludgeoned to death by commercial fishermen.

Humane Society International (HSI) is calling on Canadian Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau to cease the practice, which has seen more than 2 million seals killed since 2002, according to the group.

Michael Bernard/HSI
A seal lies injured on the ice after being shot.

Rebecca Aldworth of HSI/Canada, said: "In the last 24 hours we have seen horrific cruelty, as we do every year at Canada's commercial seal slaughter.

"Baby seals, just weeks of age, are shot multiple times, left to crawl through their own blood.

"Others are impaled on metal hooks while conscious and dragged onto sealing vessels.

"The sealers then dump the carcasses into the ocean underscoring the cruelty and wastefulness of this slaughter for fur.

"This is my 18th year bearing witness to this atrocity, and that is why HSI/Canada is calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to show leadership on this issue and put a final end to commercial sealing in Canada."

Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans said seal products "hold a significant cultural and traditional value to northern communities"

Michael Bernard/HSI
Fisherman use extended hooks to drag the injured seals onto the boat, where they are bludgeoned to death for their fur.

Today is the tenth day of the seal hunt, which can last up to two weeks.

HSI said that tens of thousands of harp seals, many just a few weeks old, are shot, clubbed and skinned for their fur.

But markets for commercial seal products are dwindling.

More than 30 countries, including the EU member states, the US and Russia, have banned seal hunt products.

Campaigners are hoping that China, which is the biggest market for such items, will sign up to the ban. 

HSI and Chinese animal group Beijing Capital Animal Welfare Association have joined forces to urge China to take a strong stand for seals by prohibiting commercial trade in their products.

Michael Bernard/HSI
A seal is bludgeoned on the ice by a fisherman.

Explaining why Canada supports the seal harvest, the government department said: "The Canadian government believes in the sustainable use of a renewable resource such as the harp seal.

"As with all Canadian fisheries, Fisheries and Oceans Canada supports and regulates the seal harvest and is committed to ensuring it is sustainable and conducted safely and humanely.

"The Canadian seal harvest is one of the world’s most highly regulated and monitored harvests of wild animals. It is an important economic and cultural activity in communities in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the Arctic."

HSI said that seals are killed for their fur. Because of this, the skins of young pups are most valuable, with 98% younger than three months old at the time of slaughter, reports the group.