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March 2, 2009

Victory for the Seals in European Parliament

Humane Society International/UK

Humane Society International UK congratulated the Internal Markets and Consumer Protection Committee of the European Parliament for voting in favour of a strong prohibition on trade in seal products in the European Union. The IMCO’s Opinion will go forward to plenary weeks from now.

“This vote brings us one step closer to ending the senseless slaughter of millions of seals throughout the world,” said Mark Glover, director of HSI UK. “The vast majority of Europeans want the EU to enact a strong prohibition on seal products, which will end the suffering I witness on the Canadian ice floes each year.”

Canada’s commercial seal kill is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth, with hundreds of thousands of baby seals killed annually for their fur. The overwhelming majority of Canadians are opposed to the commercial seal hunt and so the vast majority of seal products are exported to Europe for resale in fashion markets. Sealing industry representatives in Canada have stated than an EU prohibition on seal product trade could spell the end of commercial seal hunting in Canada.

Veterinarians have studied Canada’s commercial seal hunt for five decades and have consistently found high levels of suffering. Veterinary experts say commercial seal hunting is inherently inhumane because of the remote, extreme environments in which hunts operate and the speed at which they must be conducted. This is a primary reason why nations around the world are taking action on behalf of their citizens to end their trade in seal products.

The ProtectSeals team is on Canada’s East Coast to visit the spectacular harp seal nursery.

Broadcast-ready B-roll and still images are available for download here.

Facts

  • Ninety-seven percent of the seals killed in Canada are pups less than three months of age. At the time of slaughter, many have yet to take their first swim or eat their first solid meal and they are utterly defenseless.
  • Sealers are commercial fishermen who earn the vast majority of their annual incomes from sources other than sealing. In 2008, the landed value of Canada’s commercial seal hunt was less than 7 million dollars.
  • Independent scientists warn that current kill levels—paired with the impacts of global warming on these ice-dependent animals—pose a long-term threat to the survival of the seal populations.
  • Sixty-seven percent of Canadians holding an opinion support foreign nations prohibiting their trade in seal products.
  • In recent years, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Slovenia have either prohibited their trade in seal products or announced their intentions to do so.
  • In 2006, 425 Members of the European Parliament called for a strong prohibition on seal product trade.

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Humane Society International (HSI) is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, a nonprofit organization founded in 1954, with 10.5 million supporters. HSI works to create a humane and sustainable world for all animals, including people, through education, support, and the promotion of respect and compassion. Our efforts include: Building capacity in developing countries for humane agricultural practices and wildlife and habitat protection initiatives; helping to control stray animal populations using humane methods; promoting more humane treatment of livestock and providing veterinary services for livestock and companion animals; combating the illegal wildlife trade; protecting endangered species and marine mammals; educating children and adults; strengthening organizations and governments; and conserving wildlife habitats. Additional information can be found at hsi.org.

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