Belgium becomes first EU country to place a national ban on all seal product imports

Thursday, January 25, 2007
Brussels, Belgium
The Belgian parliament today unanimously voted to implement a national ban on the import of all seal products, making Belgium the first nation in the European Union to do so. The ban eliminates the Belgian market from the commercial seal trade, sending an important message to the Canadian government that Belgium wants no part of Canada’s commercial seal hunt. The vote was applauded by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org), which has campaigned to achieve a national ban in Belgium and continues to urge other European governments to close their markets for seal products.
Over the past few years, IFAW’s EU Office - together with the Belgian NGO GAIA - has been calling for a national ban in Belgium.

“We would like to thank the Belgian Government, especially the three ministers involved in the initiative, and the MPs who supported this landmark decision. The Parliament vote will help to end the commercial seal hunt by reducing demand for seal products,” said Lesley O’Donnell, Director of IFAW’s EU Office. “This is a monumental achievement for our founding campaign and we hope the Belgian example will encourage other European nations to adopt their own national bans.”
 
The Belgian Parliament’s vote demonstrates to the Canadian Government that markets for all seal products in Europe can be closed. Throughout the past year, there have been strong steps to stop the trade of seal products in Europe. The German Parliament voted unanimously on a motion urging the government to ban seal products, just one month after the EU Parliament passed a Written Declaration in support of an EU-wide trade ban.
 
“Belgium’s ban indicates that European opposition to the seal hunt is growing and global markets will continue to close until this cruel hunt is ended,” added Ms. O’Donnell.
 
To learn more about IFAW’s efforts to end the Canadian commercial seal hunt, visit www.ifaw.org today. 

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Sheryl Fink, Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
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