ifaw was first founded to end the seal hunt
We have saved the lives of millions of seal pups. We are determined to end the hunt once and for all.
When Brian Davies first witnessed the slaughter of newborn seal pups, he knew he had to do something. Back then, seal hunting by Atlantic Canadian fishermen was part of a growing international trade in seal pelts.
Thanks to their soft fluffy pelts, harp and hooded seal pups were particularly valuable. And vulnerable. During their first few weeks, they remain in birthing areas on sheets of ice—easy targets for hunters to club them to death.
Brian founded IFAW, and the campaign to end the hunt of seal pups became the organization’s first ever. That was in 1969.
We spread the word, and soon the message sank in. In 1983, Europe banned the importation of “whitecoat” harp seal and blueback hooded seal products.
But in the 1990s, seeing a political opportunity in the wake of the Atlantic cod fishery collapse, the Canadian government increased quotas and introduced massive subsidies in an attempt to revive the seal slaughter.
We knew we needed to do more than just raise awareness. So we partnered with European politicians to implement a European ban on all seal products.
And we worked to defend this ban when it was challenged by Canada and Norway at the World Trade Organization. Once that ban was in place, the number of Canadian sealers dropped by 90 percent.
Europe’s ban on “whitecoat” harp seal imports saved more than one million newborn seals from the slaughter over the next ten years.
In 2009, we helped European politicians implement a continent-wide ban on seal products—saving the lives of more than 3.6 million seal pups.
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