MEPs show support for EU Seal Ban ahead of ratification of Canada - EU Trade Deal

Wednesday, 8 June, 2011
European Parliamentarians today reaffirmed their support for the EU ban on seal products in a vote on amendment 10 at the parliament in Strasbourg. IFAW (The International Fund for Animal Welfare applauds the vote and urges the Canadian government to take heed of the clear intent of the amendment below.

“Takes note of the recent legal developments regarding the EU's ban on seal products, in particular Canada’s request to the WTO for the establishment of a formal dispute resolution panel; and expresses its strong hope that Canada will withdraw the WTO challenge, which is counter to positive trade relations, prior to the need for ratification of the CETA agreement by the European Parliament.”

“Canada must respect the right of Europeans to say ‘no’ to a bloody, cruel and unnecessary industry. This WTO challenge on behalf of a dying industry will cost millions and could threaten a trade deal worth billions to Canadian and European citizens,” said IFAW EU spokesperson Adrian Hiel.

The vote comes on the same day that IFAW has released new video footage from Canada’s 2011 commercial seal hunt showing clear examples of deliberate cruelty, inhumane killing practices and violations of the Marine Mammal Regulations, despite the relatively small size of the hunt this year. a short compilation of the exstensive and graphic footage can be seen here:

Fewer than 50 boats participated in the 2011 seal hunt, and only 38,000 seals have been reported killed with a landed value of under $750,000.  In spite of a smaller-scale hunt, the video evidence confirms that the Canadian government and the sealing industry continue to ignore concerns about inhumane killing raised by the European Union, and that the few existing regulations are impossible for authorities to enforce.

“Many sealers appear quite comfortable ignoring the regulations and conducting cruel and inhumane killing, even when they are aware of being observed” said Sheryl Fink, Director of IFAW’s Seal Program and witness to the 2011 commercial seal hunt off the coast of Newfoundland.

“Our video shows sealers engaging in practices such as intentionally killing a protected blueback seal and spearing a live, conscious seal pup in the face with a steel hook as it tries to defend itself. In one instance, a seal pup was sliced open while alive and left to suffer in the bottom of a boat for several minutes” said Fink.

“These horrific images are clear proof that Europeans were right to want no part in this antiquated and inhumane industry. Canada should do the honourable thing and respect the right of Europeans to keep Canada’s cruelty out of the EU and withdraw the WTO challenge as MEPs have requested,” said Hiel.

The video evidence reinforces IFAW’s position that trade bans on seal products are not only justified, but absolutely necessary.  Such examples of cruelty are the primary reason for the European Union ban on the sale of seal products from commercial hunts and why consumers around the world are increasingly rejecting seal products.

IFAW will be providing the video evidence to political leaders in Canada, the EU, and around the world as evidence that commercial sealing remains an inhumane, unnecessary and outdated practice that should be stopped.

“Although this year’s hunt is the smallest since 1993, the government-funded seal slaughter continues to be a cruel and colossal waste of Canadians’ tax dollars.  All the subsidies in the world will not make this hunt humane. The commercial seal hunt will continue to tarnish Canada’s reputation for as long as it continues” concluded Fink.

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Press Contact

Adrian Hiel (IFAW EU)
Contact phone:
+ (0)473 86 34 61
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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Sheryl Fink, Campaign Director, Canadian Wildlife
Campaign Director, Canadian Wildlife
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations