International Fund for Animal Welfare

International Fund for Animal Welfare

March 18, 2009 11:07 ET

Extraordinary Victory for Seals: Russia Bans the Hunt for All Harp Seals Less Than One Year of Age

MOSCOW, RUSSIA--(Marketwire - March 18, 2009) - Today, Yuriy Trutnev, Russia's Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology announced a complete ban on the hunting of all harp seals less than one year of age in the White Sea. This historic end to Russia's harp seal hunt was applauded by IFAW (The International Fund for Animal Welfare -, which has been working in Russia, in Canada, and throughout the world to put an end to commercial seal hunts.

"The bloody seal slaughter, the killing of the defenseless animals, which can't be even called a 'hunt,' is now prohibited in Russia as it is in most developed countries. It is a serious step towards the conservation of biodiversity in Russia," stated Minister Trutnev.

This confirmation comes after an announcement last month that Russia would ban the killing of whitecoat harp seals (unmoulted pups less than 2 months of age) and adults in the White Sea.

"We are overwhelmingly pleased that the Russian government has finally completed its pledge to protect harp seals" remarked Masha Vorontsova, Director of IFAW Russia.

Today's announcement places Russia far ahead of Canada when it comes to government response to public opinion on sealing.

"I find it quite astounding when the government of Russia is more willing to listen to its citizens on this issue than our own" said Sheryl Fink, Senior Researcher with IFAW. "Russia should be congratulated for bringing an end to its cruel and unnecessary seal slaughter. It's time for Canada to do the same."

Minister Trutnev thanked NGOs and the public for supporting the passage of the ban. "NGOs actively upheld their position against this hunt, raised public awareness and by all means contributed to the passage of ban on the seal hunt in Russia."

Today's announcement falls on the heels of a statement made earlier this month by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who called seal hunting a "bloody industry" and something that "should have been banned years ago."

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