Humane Society International/Canada

Humane Society International/Canada

March 02, 2009 10:20 ET

Humane Society International Canada: Victory for the Seals in European Parliament

CHARLOTTETOWN, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND--(Marketwire - March 2, 2009) - Humane Society International Canada 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 Opinion will go forward to plenary weeks from now.

"This vote marks a critical victory in the campaign to save millions of seals worldwide from cruel slaughter," said Rebecca Aldworth, director of HSI Canada. "The will of Europeans, their parliamentarians and EU member states is clear: the European Parliament must act now to pass a strong prohibition on trade in seal products."

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 unacceptable 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 Protect Seals 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 at

"Being here to witness the births of these magnificent animals and knowing there is finally hope that this horrible slaughter may soon be brought to an end is a tremendous experience," said Aldworth.


- 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 defenceless.

- 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, and 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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