Extraordinary victory for seals – Russia bans hunt for all harp seals under one year of age

Wednesday, 18 March, 2009
(Moscow, Russia - 18 March, 2009) – The Russian government today announced a complete ban on the hunting of all harp seals less than a year old.

This historic end to Russia’s harp seal hunt, announced by Yuriy Trutnev, Russia’s Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology, was applauded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). IFAW has been working in Canada and throughout the world to put an end to commercial seal hunts because of their unacceptable cruelty.

Minister Trutnev said: “The bloody seal slaughter, the killing of the defenceless animals, which can’t be even called a ‘hunt’, is now prohibited in Russia as it is in most developed countries. It is a serious step towards the conservation of biodiversity in Russia.”

Masha Vorontsova, Director of IFAW Russia, said: “We are overwhelmingly pleased that the Russian government has finally completed its pledge to protect harp seals.”

Russian opposition to the harp seal hunt has grown considerably in the last year. Public outcry led to mounting pressure on the government of Russia to formally address the need to close the harp seal hunt.

Trutnev thanked NGOs and the public for supporting the passage of the ban, adding: “NGOs actively upheld their position against this hunt, raised public awareness and by all means contributed to the passage of the ban on the seal hunt in Russia.”

“The time has now come for the Canadian government to follow suit and end their cruel hunt for harp seals once and for all,” added Vorontsova. “These hunts are unnecessary – they are merely supporting the trade in fur used for non-essential fashion items.”

Later this month, Canada’s commercial seal hunt will begin off the east coast of Canada. Last year, more than 217,000 harp seals were killed, 99.8% of which were under three months of age.

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