Posted by: thewideblueyonder | May 5, 2009

European Union Votes to Ban Seal Products

Written by Marika Collins

Members of European parliament voted this morning to ban seal products, further tightening the noose on Canada’s archaic and cruel commercial seal hunt. With members voting 550 to 49 in favor of the ban, Europe has sent Canada a clear message: Europeans do not support the hunt.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) welcomed the EU decision. The ban represents a welcome victory in the IFAW’s forty year campaign to end the hunt.

The IFAW expressed relief that EU parliament members had listened to the wishes of the vast majority of Europeans, as well as thousands of concerned people from around the world, who showed support for the ban in the form of thousands of emails and letters to MEPs.

According to the IFAW, thirty countries have now banned the sale of seal products including seven of Canada’s top ten export markets. The ban blocks the sale of seal products in the EU while exempting Inuit and indigenous peoples.

The Canadian government has indicated all along that it would challenge any ban at the World Trade Organization. While such a challenge is disappointing it is not surprising to the IFAW which views the Canadian challenge as a further waste of millions of dollars in Canadian taxpayer money, referring to it as “an emotional, knee-jerk reaction, not one that is socially or economically responsible.”

Canada, which sent a political envoy to Europe earlier this year in a vain effort to sway members of parliament against the ban, is finding itself increasingly isolated in its continued insistence on hunting seals. Russia, another major player in commercial seal hunting, announced a ban on hunting seals under the age of one in March of this year. That ban is viewed by the IFAW as the beginning of the end of Russia’s commercial harp seal hunt in the White Sea.

Regarding today’s ban on seal products,  Lesley O’Donnell, Director of IFAW EU, said that, “Parliament has hammered the final nail in the coffin of the sealing industry’s market in the EU.”

Canadian Senator Mac Harb introduced a bill to end Canada’s commercial seal hunt and has received more than 500,000 signatures and letters of support from around the world.

You can take action to end Canada’s commercial seal hunt by signing the IFAW’s online petition and bombarding the Canadian Senate with messages of support for Senator Harb.

Let’s hope that today’s ban marks the beginning of the end for Canada’s cruel commercial seal hunt.

Image Credit: brentdanley at flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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