New Delhi—In a landmark decision that will spare the lives of thousands of seals from slaughter by commercial sealing industries, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has banned the import of skins of seals. The notification was issued in the wake of exhaustive campaigning for the ban by Humane Society International/India and People for Animals in urging the Government of India to take a clear moral stand by closing its doors to the trade of seal products.
Every year, thousands of seals and defenseless seal pups suffer enormously as they are shot or clubbed to death for their fur and skin. India’s decision follows more than 36 countries that have banned trade in commercial seal products for animal welfare and conservation reasons, including the 28 European Union member states, the United States, Taiwan and Russia. In 2013 and 2014, the World Trade Organization twice upheld the rights of nations to prohibit seal product trade for animal welfare reasons.
N.G. Jayasimha, managing director of HSI/India said; “We are delighted that our appeal to the Government of India to take a stand against this cruelty has produced a result after 4 long years. With dwindling world markets for seal products, the Canadian sealing industry is counting on countries like India and China to import the seal fur, oil and meat that other nations refuse to buy and I am glad that India has chosen compassion over cruelty. We are certain that this choice will be the last nail in the coffin for the sealing industry.”
Lauding this policy stance that is in consonance with the anti-cruelty laws of India, trustee of People for Animals and HSI/India’s government liaison, Gauri Maulekhi, said, “We commend the Directorate General of Foreign Trade for its firm commitment in abolishing the import of seal skins. The DGFT had previously prohibited the import of exotic skin and leather and import of foie gras, a liver extract of ducks.”
- With more than two million seals killed since 2002, Canada’s commercial seal hunt is considered the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth.
- The seals are killed for their fur and, because the skins of young pups are most valuable, 98 percent are less than three months old at the time of slaughter.
- Veterinarians have called the methods of commercial sealing “inherently inhumane” and argue that prohibiting seal product trade is the most effective way to reduce the killing.
- The United States, the 28 countries of the European Union, Mexico, Russia and Taiwan have all prohibited trade in products of commercial seal hunts.
- In 2013 and 2014, the World Trade Organization twice upheld the rights of nations to prohibit seal product trade for animal welfare reasons.
- For the past several year, HSI has been the only NGO documenting the commercial seal hunt in Canada and the evidence we have gathered each year is crucial for keeping seal product markets closed.
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