IFAW Celebrates Implementation of EU Ban on Seal Products

Thursday, August 19, 2010
Brussels, Belgium

The European Union (EU) will implement a ban on the trade of all seal products beginning tomorrow, August 20th, 2010. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) applauds this momentous legislation as a significant victory in the campaign to end commercial sealing.

The EU seal product ban is perhaps the largest single victory in IFAW’s 40 year campaign to end commercial seal hunting. “We are absolutely delighted with this legislation,” said Lesley O’Donnell, director of IFAW EU. “It is the culmination of years of hard work and we will continue our efforts until cruel commercial seal hunting ends once and for all.”

The EU ban is significant in that it will prohibit the trade in products from all commercial seal hunts, including those in Canada, Namibia, and Norway, while protecting sealing by Inuit and other indigenous peoples.

In the past two years the total number of seals killed in Canada’s commercial seal hunt has dropped dramatically, with less than 25% of the Total Allowable Catch being taken. “It’s difficult to say if it was the prospect of the European ban that has saved the lives of nearly half a million seals in the past two years, or if this reflects the global lack of demand for unnecessary seal products” said Sheryl Fink, director of IFAW’s seal campaign.

"What is obvious is that the Canadian government should take this opportunity to bring an end to the seal slaughter,” added Fink. “The continuing efforts by Canada to encourage consumption of seal products in other countries such as China show a government completely out of step with world opinion.”

There has been a groundswell of action against commercial seal hunts in recent years. In 2009 Russia announced a ban on the hunting of seals less than one year of age, effectively ending its commercial seal hunt in the White Sea. A total of 30 countries have now banned the sale of seal products, including 7 of Canada’s top 10 export markets.

Canada and Norway have launched challenges against the EU ban at the World Trade Organization, which are expected to cost many times more than what the sealing industry is worth. Recent public opinion polling shows that the majority of Canadians are opposed to the use of government funds to challenge the EU seal product ban at the WTO, and would rather see their taxes used to phase out the commercial seal hunt.

IFAW is calling on the public to increase pressure on Canada by contacting their Canadian embassies and High Commissions and demanding an immediate end to Canada’s commercial seal hunt. Online tools for sending messages are available at www.ifaw.org.

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Press Contact

Adrian Hiel (IFAW EU)
Contact phone:
+32 2 230 97 17
Contact mobile:
+32 473 86 34 61
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Sheryl Fink (IFAW Canada)
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Experts

Dr. Ralf (Perry) Sonntag, Country Director, Germany
Country Director, Germany
Robbie Marsland, Regional Director, United Kingdom
Regional Director, United Kingdom
Sheryl Fink, Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Sonja Van Tichelen, Regional Director, European Union
Regional Director, European Union