IFAW cautiously welcomes EU ban on seal products but warns that exemptions could allow cruelty to continue
“The Commission’s proposal is a vital step towards ending the largest slaughter of marine mammals in the world”, said Robbie Marsland, Director of IFAW UK. “It shows that the Commission has understood the importance of animal welfare for European citizens.”
However, the proposed ban allows exemptions for seal products obtained from hunts which meet certain criteria for killing seals. “We are very concerned about this loophole,” said Mr Marsland. “Only a complete ban can prevent products from these large-scale and inherently cruel hunts from entering the European markets. Harsh and unpredictable hunting conditions make it impossible to properly monitor or enforce so-called humane killing methods.”
The Commission’s position is also weaker than recent national legislation introduced in EU countries including Belgium and the Netherlands which provide complete bans. Germany and the Czech Republic have started legislative procedures to ban seal products while Italy and Austria are considering similar initiatives.
IFAW opposes commercial seal hunting because it is cruel, unsustainable and wasteful. Over the past five years, about 1.5 million harp seals were slaughtered in Canada; clubbed or shot primarily for their fur. This year, sealers reportedly killed 206,721 harp seals to date. Despite the Canadian government claiming new regulations would ensure a more humane hunt, IFAW recorded further evidence to the contrary as seals suffered slow and agonising deaths.