A seal hunt will take place this year, but it may be scaled back because of poor ice conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off Newfoundland, says federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea.

Speaking after question period Wednesday, Shea told CBC News that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the seal harvesters will decide on the season, which usually starts around the end of March.

"Where the seal hunt will take place will be determined by the ice, of course, and when it will take place as well. That will be done in consultation with the sealers," said Shea. "But, yes, the ice conditions are not favourable this year, so there will probably be a limited hunt. But that's yet to be seen, because ice conditions could change. Ice moves."

One protest group, the Humane Society of the United States is calling for the hunt to be cancelled because of scant ice. The group believes mothers have aborted their pups at sea because there's no ice to give birth on.

There are plenty of seals along the east coast, said Shea.

Shea announced earlier this week the quota will increase by 50,000 animals, bringing the total permitted harvest for harp, hooded and grey seals to 388,200.