Austrian Parliament votes for National Ban for Seal Products

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Vienna, Austria
Yesterday the Austrian Parliament voted unanimously for a motion to introduce a national ban on all seal-products. IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org) has been lobbying for years to achieve national bans in different countries and is also working for an EU-wide ban.
Before the vote IFAW-Staff emphasized their demand for a ban with a giant inflatable seal in front of the Parliament in Vienna. Politicians of the Green Party and the Socialdemocratic Party were present to show their support.

Following Croatia, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, Austria is the sixth European country to introduce a national ban on seal products. Austrian minister for the environment, Josef Pröll (ÖVP), stated that he will also work for a ban on EU-level. National bans also exist in the USA and Mexico.

Worldwide protests over decades have not prevented the Canadian Government from allowing to slaughter more than 300.000 young seals annually in recent years. Many countries now react with the introduction of national bans on seal products in order to close the markets and send a clear message to Canada.

“National bans are the strongest means European governments have to end the cruel and unnecessary hunt” says Dr. Ralf Sonntag, Director of IFAW-Germany. “Our recent achievements cause a lot of nervousness within the Canadian authorities. Canada has to realize, that a gruesome slaughter like this has no justification in our modern world.” Veterinary investigations for instance have shown, that a large number of seals are killed inhumanely.

Again this year the government allowed 270.000 seals to be killed. And this, even though the environment of the seals is threatened dramatically by the effects of global warming. Currently the hunt came to a halt due to the fact, that a lot of the sealers are trapped in the ice with their boats. It is very likely that the hunt will continue, once the sealers are freed, in order to fulfill the quota. So far at least 195,693 harp seals have been killed.

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