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May 8, 2009

HSI and The HSUS Applaud US Senate for Vote Against Canada's Commercial Seal Slaughter

The Humane Society of the United States

In another sign of mounting global opposition over Canada's killing baby seals, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed U.S. Senate Resolution 84 last night, calling for an immediate end to this annual commercial slaughter. HSI and The Humane Society of the United States hailed the vote as another powerful signal that Canada can no longer afford to ignore.

This historic vote came just days after the European Union voted by a huge margin to ban the import of seal products from Canada.

"It's time for Canada to listen to the rest of the world. The migrating seals are a glorious resource for tourism, and the government in Ottawa must no longer resist the future for the sake of the bloody past," said John Grandy, The HSUS' senior vice president for wildlife and habitat protection. The HSUS has long been in the vanguard of the fight to end this slaughter.

The bipartisan U.S. Senate resolution was sponsored by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

"It is truly gratifying that the U.S. Senate has passed this resolution," said Sen. Levin. "Canada needs to understand that the rest of the world will not stand by and allow this slaughter to continue. Ten countries have now either banned trade in seal products or have indicated their intentions to do so and the European Union has just enacted a prohibition on seal product trade."

Sen. Collins said, "International opinion, as well as the opinion of the vast majority of Canadian citizens, is overwhelmingly in favor of ending the Canadian seal kill. We strongly encourage the government of Canada to bring this inhumane slaughter to an end."

The resolution noted that more than one million seals have been killed during the past five years, 95 percent of them pups between 12 days and 12 weeks of age. That means that many seals were slaughtered before they had even eaten their first solid meal or taken their first swim.  

Facts about Canada's Commercial Seal Hunt:

  • Canada's commercial seal hunt is the world's largest slaughter of marine mammals, with more than 1 million seals killed in the past four years.
  • Each year, HSI and The HSUS has documented the shocking cruelties of this commercial kill — including seals cut open and writhing in pain, conscious seals impaled on steel spikes and dragged across the ice floes and wounded seals left to suffer and perish.
  • Veterinary experts say the commercial seal hunt is inherently inhumane. Sealers are commercial fishermen, who earn on average less than 5 percent of their incomes from killing seals — the remainder from fisheries including crab, shrimp and lobster. Their sealing licenses could be bought out at only modest expense to the government.
  • In 2008, the landed value of the seal hunt in Canada was less than $7 million.
  • Canada exports nearly two-thirds of its seafood to the United States producing $2.5 billion annually for the Canadian economy. In 2005, HSI and The Humane Society of the United States launched a boycott of Canadian seafood products as a means of pressuring the Canadian fishing industry and government to stop the seal hunt.
  • Since the ProtectSeals seafood boycott was launched, more than 600,000 individuals and more than 5,000 grocery stores and restaurants have pledged to avoid some or all Canadian seafood until the commercial seal hunt is ended for good.
  • Nigel Barker, noted photographer and judge from "America's Next Top Model," is a spokesperson for the campaign. Barker accompanied HSI/HSUS staff to the ice floes this past spring to photograph the seal nursery and document the hunt.

For more information about the campaign to save Canadian seals, please visit humanesociety.org/protectseals.

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Humane Society International is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, among the world’s largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. HSI is creating a better future for animals and people through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the web at hsi.org.

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