EU Shakes its Fist to Defend its Ban on Seal Trade despite Protest from Canada
IFAW (The International Fund for Animal Welfare www.ifaw.org) has applauded the vote and has urged the Canadian government to take heed of the clear intention of Europe to stick to its guns on the trade ban in seal products.
A decision to ban the trade of seal products in Europe was entered into law in August 2010. However, in early 2011 Canada requested the World Trade Organisation to establish a dispute challenge on the European decision which the EU says is counter to positive trade relations between the two.
The Namibian seal hunt begins in July, with a target kill of approximately 90,000 seals – the second largest seal hunt in the world, and the most secretive. It runs annually between July and November.
“Canada must respect the right of Europeans to say ‘no’ to a bloody, cruel and unnecessary industry. This WTO challenge on behalf of a dying industry will cost millions and could threaten a trade deal worth billions to Canadian and European citizens,” said IFAW EU spokesperson Adrian Hiel.
The vote comes on the same day that IFAW has released new video footage from Canada’s 2011 commercial seal hunt showing clear examples of deliberate cruelty, inhumane killing practices and violations of the Marine Mammal Regulations, despite the relatively small size of the hunt this year.
A short compilation of the extensive and graphic footage can be seen here: www.ifaw.org/seals
Fewer than 50 boats participated in Canada’s 2011 seal hunt, and only 38,000 seals have been reported killed with a landed value of under US$750,000. In spite of a smaller-scale hunt, the video evidence confirms that the Canadian government and the sealing industry continue to ignore concerns about inhumane killing raised by the EU, and that the few existing regulations are impossible for authorities to enforce.
“Many sealers appear quite comfortable ignoring the regulations and conducting cruel and inhumane killing, even when they are aware of being observed” said Sheryl Fink, Director of IFAW’s Seal Programme and witness to the 2011 commercial seal hunt off the coast of Newfoundland.
“Our video shows sealers engaging in practices such as intentionally killing a protected blueback seal and spearing a live, conscious seal pup in the face with a steel hook as it tries to defend itself. In one instance, a seal pup was sliced open while alive and left to suffer in the bottom of a boat for several minutes” said Fink.
“These horrific images are clear proof that Europeans were right to want no part in this antiquated and inhumane industry. Canada should do the honourable thing and respect the right of Europeans to keep Canada’s cruelty out of the EU and withdraw the WTO challenge as MEPs have requested,” said Hiel.
The video evidence reinforces IFAW’s position that trade bans on seal products are not only justified, but absolutely necessary. Such examples of cruelty are the primary reason for the EU ban on the sale of seal products from commercial hunts and why consumers around the world are increasingly rejecting seal products.
IFAW will be providing the video evidence to political leaders in Canada, the EU, and around the world as evidence that commercial sealing remains an inhumane, unnecessary and outdated practice that should be stopped.
“Although this year’s hunt is the smallest since 1993, the government-funded seal slaughter continues to be a cruel and colossal waste of Canadians’ tax dollars. All the subsidies in the world will not make this hunt humane. The commercial seal hunt will continue to tarnish Canada’s reputation for as long as it continues” concluded Fink.