Italy temporarily bans imports of Canadian seal products

Monday, February 13, 2006
Rome, Italy
Italy announced today that it has temporarily suspended imports of seal skins and seal derived products. Adolfo d’Urso, the Italian Vice-Minister for Trade and Industrial Affairs, announced the moratorium today at a press conference in Rome with the Anti-Vivisection League (LAV), Italy’s leading Italian animal welfare organization. IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) has worked closely with LAV on efforts to end the Canadian seal hunt.
Today’s announcement from Rome assured that no import licences would be granted for seal products in the coming months. In addition to the temporary ban, a legislative proposal to permanently prohibit all commerce in seal skins and seal derived products also was introduced into the Italian parliament. That proposal is supported by the government coalition and is designed to complement the existing import ban on cat and dog fur.

Italy’s fur industry makes it one of the most important markets for seal pelts in Europe. Italy is also an important gateway by which seal products are imported and then re-exported to other countries.

“Today’s announcement illustrates the growing momentum in Europe to shut down the markets for seal products,” said Lesley O’Donnell, Director of IFAW’s European Office. “The important legislative efforts in Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Mexico will contribute towards putting an end to the cruel and unjustifiable massacre of seals. We call on other European Governments to follow these promising examples.”

The modern Canadian seal hunt is as big as it has been in 50 years. Over the last 3 years, 985,312 seal pups were killed on the ice off eastern Canada. Seal pups can be legally hunted at about 12 days old – once they moult their white natal fur. More than 95% of the seals killed annually are less than 3 months old. The life expectancy of harp seals is about 30 years.

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