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September 22, 2014

Swiss Council of States Approves Bill to Ban Seal Product Trade

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Another crucial step. The HSUS

The Swiss Council of States, the upper house of the Swiss federal legislature, approved a bill to prohibit seal product trade last week, a move welcomed by Humane Society International. The decision follows a 2012 vote by the Swiss National Council (the lower house of the federal legislature) in favour of banning seal products. The resolution, which was passed unanimously, will go back before the National Council for final approval.

Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of HSI/Canada, said: “The Swiss government has taken another crucial step towards banning seal product trade. In doing so, it has sent a clear message that global markets for seal products continue to close and that commercial sealing has no future.  It is high time the Canadian government began to explore ways to move Canada beyond commercial sealing, including a sealing industry buyout plan.”

Call for a buyout to help end Canada's commercial seal slaughter.

Vera Weber, vice president of the Swiss based Franz Weber Foundation, said, “By stopping the trade in seal products, the people of Switzerland are refusing to participate in the cruelty of commercial sealing. This decision ensures that Switzerland will never become a replacement market for Canadian seal products in the wake of the EU ban on seal product trade. I am thrilled that this legislation will likely be in place in 2015.”

The Council of States has required that the Swiss prohibition mirror the amended European Union ban that will be adopted by October 2015. Like the 2009 EU ban, it will not prohibit products of traditional Inuit seal hunts.


  • Humane Society International has campaigned to end Canada's commercial seal hunt for many years, documenting the commercial seal slaughter and working to remove the economic incentives for fishermen to slaughter seals.
  • Canada's commercial seal slaughter is among the largest slaughter of marine mammals on earth. Independent scientists warn that reckless kill levels authorized by the Canadian government, paired with the impacts of climate change on the ice-dependent harp seals, could pose a threat to the survival of harp seal populations.
  • Government landing 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 now state that Canada's commercial slaughter is inherently inhumane.
  • The seals are killed primarily for their fur and, because most Canadians oppose commercial sealing, the sealing industry relies almost exclusively on export markets to sell its products.
  • Global markets for seal products are closing fast. In 2009, the European Union joined the United States, Mexico and Croatia in prohibiting trade in products of commercial seal hunts. In 2011, the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus prohibited trade in harp seal fur, and in 2013, Taiwan ended its trade in all marine mammal products (including seal products).
  • National polling consistently shows most 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: Christopher Paré, 514.395.2914/438-402-0643, cpare@hsi.org

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