German government unanimously affirms EU regulation on seal products

Friday, June 14, 2013
Hamburg

Last night the German Bundestag voted unanimously to stick to the existing pan-European trade regulation on commercial seal products. The vote is in response to the WTO (World Trade Organization) challenge brought by Canada and Norway. The lawsuit is at present being debated and a decision should be made this year. IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) has worked intensively and in many EU member states for the introduction of this trade regulation.
“The number of seals cruelly slaughtered in Canada’s commercial seal hunt has dropped by 80% since the pan-European trade regulation was introduced in 2010,” says Dr. Ralf Sonntag, marine biologist and director of IFAW Germany. “That is why the EU trade regulation absolutely has to remain in place. The German Bundestag’s resolution shows their determination to stand up for the rights of their citizens to say ‘no’ to cruelty and to request that the EU also resolutely stick to the regulation.“
Since the embargo was introduced in 2010 the trade in commercially hunted seal skins has dropped dramatically. The number of seals killed has declined from about 350.000 to 70 000 skins per year or less. IFAW assumes that this is due mainly to the trade regulation; the German Federal Government shares that opinion.
The German Bundestag’s vote emphasizes that a liberalisation or weakening of the EU trade regulation would not be acceptable to the Federal Government for reasons of animal welfare and species protection – as this would lead to a new and threatening increase in the number of seals being killed.
“This binding resolution makes sure that our government will continue to not only strongly support the continuance of the trade regulation but will also keep a keen eye on the WTO court case”, says Dr. Sonntag. “This gives us hope that in this case ethical values may trump commercial interests.”  
Animal welfare organisations are eagerly awaiting the result of the WTO trial as it will create a precedent for similar future cases in which the court will have to choose between animal welfare and commercial interests.
The official wording can be found here: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/17/138/1713890.pdf

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Note to Editors: High resolution photos and videos of the commercial seal hunt are available from www.ifawimages.com
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
 

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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