European Union bans the sale of seal products

Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Ottawa, Canada

The European Parliament today voted 550 to 49 in favour of a ban on the trade of all seal products within the EU. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) applauded the decision as a significant victory in IFAW’s 40 year campaign to end Canada’s commercial seal hunt. The ban will forbid the sale of seal products for profit within the EU with an exception for Inuit and other indigenous peoples.

“The Parliament has hammered the final nail in the coffin of the sealing industry’s market in the EU,” said Lesley O’Donnell, Director of IFAW EU. “MEPs have clearly responded to the tens of thousands of emails, postcards and messages sent by members of the European public.”

“We are pleased that the European Parliament has responded to the concerns of their citizens, and did not give in to the emotional campaign of rhetoric and misinformation spread across Europe by the government of Canada,” said Sheryl Fink, IFAW Senior Researcher.
 
A total of 30 countries have now banned the sale of seal products, including 7 of Canada’s top 10 export markets.

Canada has indicated that it will challenge any ban at the World Trade Organization.

Fink called the government’s response “Disappointing, but not surprising.” “For a government that has proven it has no qualms about wasting millions of Canadians’ tax dollars on propping up an economically unviable sealing industry, it seems logical that it  would insist on wasting millions more on a WTO challenge” continued Fink.

“Unfortunately for Canadian taxpayers, our government’s irrational support for slaughtering seals has become a matter of personal pride for a number of politicians. This is an emotional, knee-jerk reaction, not one that is socially or economically responsible.” 

Canada finds itself increasingly isolated on the global stage when it comes to commercial seal hunts. In March, Russia announced a ban on the hunting of seals under one year of age, effectively ending its commercial harp seal hunt in the White Sea.

Canadian Senator Mac Harb, who recently introduced a bill to end Canada’s commercial seal hunt, reports that he has now received more than 500,000 signatures, emails and letters of support from around the world.

IFAW spokespeople are available in English, French, Dutch and German.

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