Paul McCartney supports demonstrators in call for ban on trade in seal products

Tuesday, July 1, 2008
European Union
Rock legend Paul McCartney joined concerned citizens from all over Europe in their call for a strong EU ban on the trade in seal products as they demonstrated outside the offices of the European Commission in Brussels today. Organised by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Humane Society International (HSI), GAIA and Eurogroup for Animals, the peaceful demonstration attracted people from across the European Union and beyond, including countries such as Germany, Slovakia, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Finland, UK, Sweden, Italy, and Croatia.
Rock legend Paul McCartney joined concerned citizens from all over Europe in their call for a strong EU ban on the trade in seal products as they demonstrated outside the offices of the European Commission in Brussels today. Organised by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Humane Society International (HSI), GAIA and Eurogroup for Animals, the peaceful demonstration attracted people from across the European Union and beyond, including countries such as Germany, Slovakia, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Finland, UK, Sweden, Italy, and Croatia.
 
The Commission is expected to publish a proposal on a possible ban soon. The date of the demonstration was selected to coincide with the start of the French presidency and the start of the Namibian seal hunt, which is the second largest one in the world.
 
Paul McCartney paid tribute to the demonstrators in a surprise video message shown on a screen. The dedicated animal welfare supporter said:  “Stopping the import of seal fur into the European Union could really put an end to this brutality once and for all – please ask the EU to ban this terrible trade today.”
 
The crowd held a minute’s silence in honour of the millions of seals that have been killed in the last few decades, and blew whistles to show their disapproval with the hunt. European parliamentarians also came on stage to show their support for a robust and comprehensive trade ban across the European Union.
 
Sonja Van Tichelen, director of Eurogroup for Animals, said: “The fact that people turned up in such large numbers from all over the EU for today’s demonstration, shows the strength of feeling against the seal hunt. European citizens are not willing to support this deadly trade.”
 
Lesley O’Donnell, director of IFAW EU office, said: “Year after year our observers record unimaginable levels of animal cruelty out on the ice floes during Canada’s huge commercial seal hunt, which is not only unacceptable but an entirely useless and wasteful activity. Europeans want no part of this.” 

Mark Glover, director of HSI UK, said: “I’ve witnessed firsthand the extreme suffering of baby seals in Canada and Namibia. Only a strong ban on seal product trade will stop the cruelty and meet the expectations of the European Parliament and European Citizens.”
 
Michel Vandenbosch, president of GAIA, added: “No doubt an EU-wide ban is the way forward to end this unacceptable and indefensible cruelty.”
 
Pictures and footage released at simultaneous press events all over Europe on 25 April demonstrated why the seal hunt could never be humane. The graphic evidence taken during the annual hunt in Canada earlier this year showed hunters ignoring the regulations, failing to kill seals quickly, and hooking and hoisting live seals into boats.
 
Animal welfare organisations and MEPs are not calling for an end to traditional Inuit seal hunting (in accordance with humane animal welfare standards) which only accounts for a very small proportion of the harp seals hunted in Canada.  The ban only addresses the large scale commercial seal hunting, and includes seal products derived from commercial hunts elsewhere, such as in Namibia and Russia.

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Experts

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