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May 30, 2012

HSI Congratulates Swiss National Council for Landslide Vote to Ban Commercial Seal Product Trade

Humane Society International/Canada

  • In the face of closing markets and plummeting sales, sealing can no longer be justified. Chad Sisneros

MONTREAL—Humane Society International applauds the Swiss National Council, for voting 132 to 28 in favour of a prohibition on commercial seal product trade on May 29. The Council noted the cruelty associated with commercial seal hunting, the opposition of many of its citizens to this practice, and the need to ensure the Swiss market does not operate as an alternative for the European Regulation banning commercial seal products trade. The Swiss National Council is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland.

“Global markets for seal products are closing for good, climate change is devastating the seals’ sea ice habitat, and it is very clear there is no future in commercial sealing,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International Canada. “Instead of providing artificial life support to this dying industry, our government should do as Canadians want and stop the senseless slaughter of baby seals for good." 

“I have personally observed Canada’s commercial seal slaughter since 2006, and both the cruelty of the killing and the serious impact of climate change on these ice dependent seals have been very difficult to witness,” said Vera Weber, vice president of the Franz Weber Foundation, a Swiss organization who has been working worldwide. The Swiss National Council is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland. “I am exceptionally proud of my government for taking action to stop our trade in seal products. While the Senate still has to vote on the ban, the people of Switzerland have been heard and my country will never be a market for seal fur.”

Last year, the Customs Union compromising the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Belarus prohibited the import and export of fur from harp seals, the primary markets of Canada’s commercial seal slaughter. The United States and the&nbsp European Union—Canada’s two largest trading partners also prohibit trade in commercial seal products. The Canadian government has confirmed that 70,000 seals were slaughtered in the 2012 commercial seal hunt. Local government financed the kill, funding a seal processor to purchase and stockpile seal skins, despite an apparent lack of markets.

HSI/Canada calls on the Canadian and provincial governments to support a federal buyout  of the commercial sealing industry, which would involve ending the seal hunt, providing immediate compensation for sealers, and investing in economic alternatives in the communities involved.

Broadcast quality video the 2012 commercial seal slaughter is available here. Please email the media contact for high-res still images.

Facts:

  • Government landings reports confirm that more than 98 percent of seals killed in Canada’s annual slaughter are less than three months of age.
  • Veterinary reports consistently reveal high levels of animal suffering in commercial sealing, and leading veterinary experts have suggested in recent years that Canada’s commercial slaughter is inherently inhumane.
  • Sealers are commercial fishermen who, on average, earn less than 5 percent of their annual incomes from sealing killing seals – the remainder comes from seafood such as crab, shrimp and lobster.
  • Nearly 6,000 establishments, and more than 750,000 people, have joined a global boycott of Canadian seafood products that will continue until the seal slaughter ends. The boycott has already cost the Canadian economy many times the value of the seal slaughter.
  • National polling consistently shows the overwhelming majority of Canadians want the commercial seal slaughter to end, and oppose the Canadian government using tax dollars to promote the sealing industry.
  • Polling shows half of Newfoundland sealers and the majority of Newfoundlanders, holding an opinion, support a federal sealing industry buyout (Ipsos Reid 2010).

Media Contact: Dean Pogas: 514-261-6007/514-395-2914; dpogas@hsi.org

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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 11 million members and constituents globally—on the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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