An extremely small number of grey seals were killed during the annual hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this year.

Sealers said no animals were killed on Hay Island, off Cape Breton, during a hunt that has harvested more than 1,000 animals in past years, and about eight grey seals were killed in the Gulf area.

"There wasn’t a hunt this year ... some animals were taken for food but that’s all the animals that were harvested this year," said Robert Courtney, who represents sealers in Nova Scotia. "Some years we have taken up to 1,500 animals out of that [Hay Island] area."

Europe and Russia have banned seal imports and there's still no word on a trade deal with China that's been in limbo for more than a year.

""Even though the market's there and people want the product, the border ain't open so we can't get the product into the marketplace," Courtney said.

Eastern Canada’s annual harp seal hunt is supposed to start this month, but that's up in the air, too.

And the Canadian Sealers' Association says the silence from Ottawa is deafening.

In recent years, the harp seal hunt has yielded up to 80,000 animals.