Amazing Support Secures Vote in European Parliament Committee
This report was filed by Barbara Slee - The International Fund for Animal Welfare's Political and Campaigns officer on the ground in Belgium.
Members of the European parliament (MEPs) from the IMCO (Internal Market and Consumer Protection) Committee, voted on March 2 overwhelmingly in favor of a ban on the trade in seal products without any derogation, and with a single exemption for products from traditional Inuit seal hunts.
The week before this crucial vote, the legal service of the Council (representing the member states) claimed that the proposed legal basis (article 95) was inappropriate for this legislation. This advice seriously undermined the entire proposal for legislation and threatened the outcome we were hoping for; an unconditional ban on the trade in seal products coming from commercial seal hunts. We feared that months of convincing MEPs and national officials had been in vain.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare worked together with other animal welfare groups and we were in close contact with parliamentarians until the last moments before the vote. We supplied them with the necessary scientific background information and in return they kept us updated with news about negotiations and developments. At the same time, IFAW supporters sent hundreds of emails to many different MEPs asking them to support a total ban and in boxes were flooded within a few days’ time.
With great relief we witnessed at the vote that MEPs did not falter. Indeed they represented the voice of millions of citizens from all over Europe expressing their disapproval with commercial seal hunting. Not only did they vote against the proposed legislation by the European Commission (a ban with an unenforceable derogation for so-called “humane killing practices”), they also voted against the weak alternative proposed by UK MEP Diana Wallis (a labeling scheme instead of a ban).
This vote was an important step on the path to achieving an outright ban. In April the entire Parliament will have the opportunity to vote in plenary on this crucial legislation. Backed with your amazing support, we are more motivated than ever to achieve our goal: a world free from commercial seal hunts!