The annual seal hunt off Newfoundland and Labrador has been extended until the end of May.

The season was scheduled to end May 15, but in a statement Tuesday, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said the season had been extended to allow hunters more time to find buyers for pelts.

The department estimates that 60,000 seals have been taken so far this season.

Fishermen who have found buyers have been getting about $20 per pelt this year. A few years ago pelts were being sold for more than $100 each.

DFO increased this year's harp seal quota by 50,000 animals, bringing the total allowable catch for harp, hooded and grey seals to 388,200.

 Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea says the population of harp seals is about 6.9 million, more than triple what it was in the 1970s.