Switzerland bans seal products

IFAW is celebrating  another victory for seals this week,  as Switzerland became the 35th country to ban seal products!

Switzerland now joins the EU, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Taiwan, Mexico and the USA in having some form of import and trade ban on products from the cruel Canadian commercial seal hunt.

The ban comes into effect on April 1, and will prohibit the importation of all commercial seal products including skins, furs, meat, oil, and organs. As with the EU ban, there is an exemption for seal products from indigenous seal hunts and seal products brought back by travelers as souvenirs.

The Canadian commercial seal slaughter is expected to begin later this month, with a likely allowable catch of 400,000 harp seals. The helpless pups, aged 3 weeks to 3 months of age, are clubbed and shot for their fur and blubber. According to government statistics, over 92 percent of the meat from this “hunt” is wasted.

Seal hunting is a dying industry.  Norwegian seal hunters have declared  it is “game over,” as shrinking ice, shrinking markets, and shrinking subsidies have taken their toll on this cruel and unnecessary activity. The Canadian hunt killed 66,504 seals in 2016 with a landed value of 1.6 million CAD, a sharp decline from the industry’s 2006 peak at $34.3 million. Like the Norwegian hunt, the Canadian hunt has also relied heavily on government financial support and bailout loans in recent years.

Meanwhile in Canada, federal politicians are expected to soon vote in favour of a bill to create National Seal Products Day. This politically-motivated gesture will neither revive the beleaguered seal hunt nor help fishermen transition out of it.

--SF

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Experts

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Sheryl Fink, Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Sonja Van Tichelen, Regional Director, European Union
Regional Director, European Union