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November 30, 2010

HSI Urges China to Say "No" to Seal Products

Humane Society International/Canada

Beijing (Nov. 30, 2010)—Humane Society International urged the Chinese government to prohibit trade in seal products, citing the inherent cruelty involved in commercial seal slaughters. The media conference occurred in the wake of ongoing efforts by the Canadian government to develop new seal product markets in Asia following the recent decision by the European Union to ban its trade in seal products. A video statement from noted Asian celebrity Karen Mok, along with graphic footage of Canada's commercial seal slaughter, was shown to journalists attending the event.

"The world community is saying 'no' to products of cruel commercial seal slaughters, and now the Canadian sealing industry wants to use China as a dumping ground for these unwanted items," said Peter Li, China policy specialist for Humane Society International. "But I am confident that, having learned of the cruel origins of seal products, the people of China will act quickly to ensure there is no market for this brutality here."

"I've observed the Canadian seal slaughter for each of the past 12 years. In that time, I have witnessed unspeakable cruelty, including wounded animals left to choke on their own blood, live seals stabbed and dragged across the ice, and seals sliced open while still conscious," said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. "Canada's commercial seal slaughter is inherently inhumane, and the only way to stop the cruelty is to stop the trade in seal products."

Each year, hundreds of thousands of seal pups are clubbed and shot to death in Canada for their fur. Humane Society International has stood at the forefront of a global campaign to end commercial sealing for good.

In May 2009, the European Union prohibited its trade in products of commercial seal hunts, joining the United States (which banned seal product trade in 1972) and Mexico and Croatia (who banned seal product trade in 2006).

With the loss of the European market, the Canadian government is looking to East Asia for a new market to breathe life into the moribund sealing industry. While Canadian sealing industry representatives indicate they believe China is a potential market because they think animal welfare is not a concern in this region, HSI believes this claim is groundless.

China's animal protection community is growing in strength and many Chinese consumers are consciously rejecting products of animal cruelty. HSI is calling upon Chinese consumers and businesses not to buy or sell seal products, and the Chinese government to consider a prohibition on seal product trade.

Facts:

  • Canada's seal slaughter targets defenseless baby seals. Canadian government kill reports show that 97 percent of the seals killed in recent years have been less than three months old, while most have been just one month old or less at the time of slaughter.
  • Veterinary experts argue that Canada's commercial seal slaughter is inherently inhumane because of the extreme, uncontrolled environment in which the killing operates and the speed at which the killing must occur.
  • Global markets for seal products are closing. Canada's two largest trading partners—the United States and the European Union—have both prohibited trade in seal products. Mexico and Croatia have also ended their trade in seal products, and animal protection groups the world over are urging more nations to follow suit.
  • The Canadian sealing industry achieved record low economic returns in both 2009 and 2010. While the industry brought in roughly $1 million in each of these years, the Canadian government estimates the cost of enforcement at the slaughter to be up to $3.6 million annually. In addition, the Canadian government has invested millions of dollars in promoting the sealing industry internationally and working to block prohibitions on seal product trade.
  • A boycott of Canadian seafood, that will continue until the seal slaughter ends for good, has already cost the Canadian economy many times the value of the sealing industry. More than 5,500 establishments and 650,000 people have pledged to avoid some or all Canadian seafood until the seal hunt ends for good. Recent polling conducted by Ipsos Reid shows that two-thirds of Newfoundland sealers holding an opinion are concerned about the impact of the boycott. For more information about the campaign to save Canadian seals, please visit hsicanada.ca.

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International — one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than ten million members and constituents globally — On the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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