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January 8, 2013

HSI Commends Taiwan for Historic Ban on Trade in Marine Mammal Products

Canadian seal products are among those prohibited

Humane Society International/Canada

  • It is time for the Canadian government to face facts and end its support of the fading sealing industry. Katie Carrus/The HSUS

MONTREAL—Humane Society International/Canada commends Taiwan for passing a landmark ban on trade in marine mammal products, including seal skins, but exempting products of traditional indigenous hunts. The Taiwanese Legislative Yuan passed the legislation with unanimous support following a multi-year campaign by Taiwanese animal protection group EAST in collaboration with HSI.

“The compassionate actions of the Taiwanese Legislative Yuan will save countless seals and other marine mammals from a horrible fate,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of HSI Canada. “The momentum to end trade in marine mammal products is growing and the sealing industry’s days are numbered. Instead of providing more pointless subsidies to artificially prop up this shameful practice, Canada should prohibit the slaughter and invest in a transition program for sealers.”  

"Citizens of Taiwan care deeply about animal welfare, and we do not want to trade in products of cruelty that the rest of the world has rejected," said Wu Hung, executive director of EAST. "I am very proud of the leadership Taiwan has shown in banning trade in marine mammal products. I hope that many other nations will follow suit, and that the Canadian government will finally do as the majority of Canadians and people around the world want and end the seal hunt for good." 

“Between 2003 and 2009, Taiwan imported 430,000 kilograms of seal oil, which made us the 4th largest importer of seal oil in the world. Through our trade in seal products, consumers in Taiwan were unintentionally involved in the killing of thousands of innocent seals in Canada," said Legislator Lin of the Legislative Yuan in Taiwan. "Taiwan's decision is an important step forward for animal protection and conservation in Asia." Canada’s commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth. Because most Canadians oppose commercial sealing, the products of the seal slaughter are almost entirely exported. With the United States, European Union and Russia prohibiting trade in seal products, the Canadian sealing industry has sought to develop alternate markets in Asia, sparking protests in mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan. 

EAST launched their campaign to secure a Taiwanese ban on seal product trade in 2010, achieving massive public support for the move and convincing many retailers in Taiwan to voluntarily discontinue sales of seal products. The prohibition on trade in marine mammal products cements Taiwan’s position and ensures that its trade in marine mammal products will never resume. 

Facts:

  • The United States, European Union, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Mexico—and now Taiwan--have prohibited trade in some or all seal products.
  • In January 2012, sealing industry representatives admitted that there are 400,000 seal skins in inventory on the global market.
  • In April 2012, when it appeared the annual seal slaughter would not go ahead due to lack of markets, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced that it would provide $3.6 million in loans to Carino Processing Limited to stockpile skins to meet “future demand.”
  • At the industry’s height, sealing revenues amounted to about 3 percent of the landed value of Newfoundland’s fishing industry. In recent years, the landed value of the seal hunt has been in the region of $1 million annually, with only a few hundred fishermen participating in the slaughter.
  • 2010 polling revealed half of Newfoundland sealers with an opinion support a sealing industry buyout—a plan in which sealers would receive immediate compensation as the hunt is ended and funds would be invested in economic alternatives in the communities involved.  

Media Contact: Dean Pogas, 514.395.2914, dpogas@humanesociety.org

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

EAST works to create a better quality of life by improving animal welfare and environmental protection through research, legislation and education campaigns along with social justice – on the Web at www.east.org.tw

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