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May 5, 2009

European Union Makes History by Banning Trade in Seal Products

Humane Society International Applauds Major Victory for Seals

Humane Society International

STRASBOURG, France — Humane Society International congratulated the European Parliament for voting overwhelmingly in favour of a strong ban on trade in seal products.

“The European Union has made history by ending its trade in seal products,” said Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International/Canada. “This ban spells the beginning of the end of Canada’s globally condemned seal slaughter.”

The Parliament voted for a strong Regulation that will eliminate the placing of seal products on the EU market, closing a primary market for Canada's commercial seal hunt. The Council and Commission have already agreed to the text, making Tuesday's plenary vote the final step in achieving the regulation. In light of the overwhelming vote in favour of the agreed upon regulation by the Parliament, the regulation will go into effect in 2010.

The EU has been a primary market for the Canadian sealing industry, accounting for about one-third of reported seal skin exports. Globally, the EU accounts for one quarter of the world trade in seal products.

In recent years, eleven countries have banned their trade in seal products or announced their intentions to do so. They join the United States, which prohibited seal product trade in 1972.

Timeline:

  • April 2009 - Prices for seal fur in Canada declined to just $15 CAD — a drop of 86 percent from 2006 — largely due to the pending EU prohibition. As a result, many sealers chose not to participate in the slaughter. Out of a quota of 338,200 seals, less than 60,000 have been killed to date — making it likely that a quarter of a million baby seals will have been spared a cruel death this year.
  • March 2009 – Canadian Senator Mac Harb introduced the first bill in Canadian history to end the commercial seal hunt.
  • March 2009 - The U.S. Senate introduced a resolution calling upon the Canadian government to end the seal hunt, and on the European Union to introduce a strong prohibition on seal product trade.
  • 2006 - Four hundred twenty-five members of the European Parliament introduced a historic resolution to ban EU trade in seal products. That year, the Council of Europe passed its own resolution calling on its 25 Member States to promote initiatives aimed at banning the trade in seal products.
  • 2006 – Croatia and Mexico banned their trade in seal products.
  • In the past decade – Nine EU Member states banned their trade in seal products or announced their intentions to do so.

Facts about the seal slaughter:

  • Canada's commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on earth, with hundreds of thousands of pups killed annually for their fur.
  • Veterinary experts have concluded that the commercial seal hunt is inherently inhumane, and independent scientists warn that current kill levels pose a threat to the survival of seal populations.
  • Canada's commercial seal hunt accounts for less than one-half of one percent of the GDP of Newfoundland, and on average, less than 5 percent of the annual incomes of the individuals who kill the seals.
  • The overwhelming majority of Canadians is opposed to the commercial seal slaughter (Environics Research 2005) and supports foreign nations ending their trade in seal products (Pollara 2007).

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Humane Society International is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, one of 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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