International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

July 14, 2011 10:10 ET

New Poll Shows Most Europeans Say 'NO' to Cruelty from Canada

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 14, 2011) - A new Ipsos MORI poll commissioned by a group of nine non-profit organizations released today shows the majority of people across 11 EU countries support the European Union (EU) ban on seal products. On average, nearly three in four adults (72%) across the 11 countries surveyed say they support the EU's ban on the sale of seal products in Europe. Support for the ban is highest in Germany at 88% followed by Belgium at 84% and France at 81%.

The poll results come at an awkward time for the EU and Canadian negotiators who are in Brussels this week for the latest round of talks on the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).

Animal welfare groups say the poll supports a recent amendment passed in the EU Parliament suggesting that Canada drop its challenge of the EU seal ban at the WTO, and that Europe should not ratify a trade agreement with Canada until it does so.

A single WTO dispute panel was established to hear complaints from Canada and Norway in April 2011.

The multi-country survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI in 11 European countries, commissioned by Humane Society International (HSI), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Eurogroup for Animals, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Global Action in the Interest of Animals (GAIA), Lega Anti Vivisezione (LAV), Bont voor Dieren, and Fondation Franz Weber.

Canada's WTO challenge of the EU seal ban has been an issue during the trade discussions, and earlier this month the EU Parliament voted in favour of an amendment which was made to a proposed Motion for a Resolution on EU-Canada trade relations. The amendment states that the EU Parliament "expresses its strong hope that Canada will withdraw the WTO challenge, which runs counter to positive trade relations, prior to the need for ratification of the CETA agreement by the European Parliament;"

Members of European Parliament have been vocal in their call for Canada to withdraw its WTO challenge, and this new European poll is clear evidence that they are acting on behalf of a majority of European citizens.

Key findings of the European poll

Over seven in ten adults (72%) across the 11 European countries surveyed say they support the EU's ban on the sale of seal products in Europe.

At least four in five people in Germany (88%), Belgium (84%) and France (81%) say they support the ban.

Around three in four people in Lithuania (75%), Great Britain, Poland and Sweden (each 73%) are in support of the EU's ban.

In the Netherlands (66%), Spain (62%) and Romania (61%), more than three in five support the ban. In Italy, just over half support the ban (52%).

The ratio of support to opposition is the highest in Northern Europe — Germany (18:1) and Belgium (14:1), followed by France (9:1) and then Sweden (8:1). Overall, across the 11 countries surveyed the ratio of support to opposition is around 5:1. While in Italy a majority (52%) say they support the ban, a third (33%) say they do not.

In Great Britain, a split ballot experimental design - with one half of the sample being asked the simple question "As you may know, last year the European Union (the EU) banned seal products from the commercial seal hunts (such as seal fur) from being sold in Europe. From what you know, do you support or oppose the EU ban on the sale of seal products in Europe?" and the other half being given a detailed explanatory introduction on the background - shows statistically identical proportions of British adults with and without the long introduction say they oppose the ban (14% with and 13% without.)

The full results are shown below, along with those for a measure of people's knowledge of commercial seal hunting, including both the complete long introduction and the shorter introduction used in Great Britain.

Notes

The text of the EU Parliamentary amendment reads: "Takes note of the recent legal developments regarding the EU's ban on seal products, in particular Canada's request to the WTO for the establishment of a formal dispute resolution panel; expects the Commission to remain firm on the EU's stance regarding the ban on seal products, and expresses its strong hope that Canada will withdraw the WTO challenge, which runs counter to positive trade relations, prior to the need for ratification of the CETA agreement by the European Parliament;

Survey Technical Details

The multi-country survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI in 11 European countries, commissioned by the eight animal welfare NGOs listed above. A minimum of 500 interviews were conducted in each country (a total of 6,102 across the 11 countries), either face-to-face or by telephone (omnibus surveys), in April/May 2011.

National results are 'weighted' to the known adult population profile of each country by age, sex, work status (active or inactive) and region. The overall results for all 11 countries are also weighted in proportion to each country's adult population size.

In Great Britain, a 'split-sample' was used to test the impact of knowledge of commercial seal hunting and the EU ban. One version of the question provided some background to commercial seal hunting and the ban (as did the question used in all other countries), while the second version – unique to GB - did not provide the background. The two sets of GB results are shown below. (For international consistency, the overall 11 country results include ONLY the GB results using the longer question wording).

Q1 "Thinking about commercial seal hunting, how much — if at all — would you say you personally know about this?"
Base: All
A great A fair Not very Nothing at Never Not sure
deal amount much all but have heard of it
heard of it
% % % % % %
11-country total 3 18 30 23 25 1
Belgium 10 30 31 17 11 1
France 2 25 16 30 27 -
Germany 2 23 50 22 3 -
Great Britain 4 18 26 15 38 -
Italy 5 16 33 18 27 1
Lithuania 1 4 15 29 50 1
Netherlands 4 34 29 22 10 1
Poland 1 4 13 38 42 4
Romania 1 3 13 16 66 1
Spain 3 15 35 22 20 4
Sweden 1 12 40 41 6 1

Q2 (USED IN ALL COUNTRIES, INCLUDING HALF OF THE GB SAMPLE). "In March 2011, the

Canadian Government said it would allow the hunting of over 400,000 seals during this year's commercial seal hunt. While it is prohibited in Canada to trade in the skins of newborn seals (known as "whitecoats"), these pups are no longer protected when they begin to shed their white fur – when they can be as young as 12 days old. In fact, the large majority of the seals killed in Canada's commercial seal hunt are under three months old. Commercial hunts will also take place in some other countries, such as Norway.

Some people support commercial seal hunting because they say it is important to the livelihoods of the people who hunt seals and because they say seal populations should be controlled. Other people oppose commercial seal hunting because they say hunting seals is wrong, since they feel some of the methods used to kill seals cause too much pain or distress.

As you may know, last year the European Union (the EU) banned seal products from the commercial seal hunts (such as seal fur) from being sold in Europe. The EU did this because it believed there was concern among the public in Europe about seals being killed using methods that cause too much pain or distress.

From what you know, do you support or oppose the EU ban on the sale of seal products in Europe? Would you say you…"

Q2 (USED ONLY IN GB FOR HALF OF THE SAMPLE). "As you may know, last year the European

Union (the EU) banned seal products from the commercial seal hunts (such as seal fur) from being sold in Europe.

From what you know, do you support or oppose the EU ban on the sale of seal products in Europe? Would you say you…"

Base: All
Strongly Tend to Neither/ Tend to Strongly Don't Support Oppose
support support nor oppose oppose know/no
opinion
% % % % % % % %
11-country total 56 16 8 4 10 6 72 13
Belgium 68 16 7 2 4 3 84 6
France 57 24 9 4 5 1 81 9
Germany 71 17 6 2 3 1 88 5
Great Britain (with 56 17 11 5 9 2 73 14
intro)
Great Britain 46 18 16 4 9 7 64 13
(without intro)*
Italy 43 9 6 5 29 8 52 33
Lithuania 57 18 9 5 7 3 75 13
Netherlands 53 13 10 3 14 7 66 17
Poland 55 18 7 4 6 11 73 10
Romania 52 10 13 2 3 20 61 6
Spain 49 13 12 5 10 11 62 15
Sweden 55 19 10 4 4 8 73 9

Contact Information

  • Michelle Cliffe
    International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
    647 986 4329
    mcliffe@ifaw.org

    Dean Pogas
    HSI/Canada
    514 395 2914
    dpogas@hsi.org

    Dr Joanna Swabe
    HSI/Europe
    +31 651 317 004
    jswabe@hsi.org

    Dirk-Jan Verdonk
    World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
    +31 6 10944431