Activism

Published on January 22nd, 2009 | by Marika Collins

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Canada Asks EU to Drop Proposed Seal Product Ban

January 22nd, 2009 by

Seal

Canadian officials are in Brussels this week to ask the European Union not to pass proposed legislation that would ban the import of seal products.

The trip was organized by the Canadian federal Fisheries and Oceans Department.  According to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), the delegates are hoping to sway members of European parliament to vote against the ban.

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Canadian officials have tried to maintain the illusion that seals are killed in a humane way, a point of contention with animal activists who say this is not the case. Supporters of the hunt have railed against lobbyists who, they claim, unfairly insist on characterizing the hunt as cruel.

The Canadian delegates plan on making their case before the EU parliament in an attempt to make an impact before a vote on the ban (believed to be imminent) is undertaken. A ban on seal products means that a significant market of twenty-seven countries would be off limits to Canadian seal hunters which represents an obvious blow to the industry and a welcome development for champions of animal rights everywhere.

The proposed EU ban on seal products has been lauded by animal rights activists who have long maintained that the Canadian seal hunt is a barbaric, cruel and antiquated practice. According to the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), hundreds of thousands of baby harp seals are slaughtered on the ice fields off Canada’s east coast for their pelts each year – over 95% of the seals killed during the hunt are just days or weeks old. Many seals are not killed outright and end up being skinned alive. Countless others escape their hunters and enter the water after the initial blow, only to die slowly in agony.

Support for the hunt has been waning in recent years and, if the countless anti-seal hunt petitions in circulation are any indication, opposition is on the increase.

According to the CBC, Canadian fur officials are, in part, blaming the EU’s proposed ban on an extremely poor showing for Nunavut seal skins so far this year: “none of the 10,000 Nunavut seal pelts that went up for auction this month had sold at the first auction of this year at Fur Harvesters Auction Inc.’s auction house in North Bay, Ontario.” Fur brokers plan on slashing prices in an attempt to revitalize sales.

Approximately 300,000 harp seals are killed during Canada’s seal hunt annually. It is the largest hunt of its kind in the world. Let’s hope the EU has the guts to go through with the ban despite pressure being applied to achieve the opposite.

For more information on the Canadian seal hunt, please visit Stop the Seal Hunt.

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

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About the Author

Marika Collins is a writer, editor, and photographer who cares deeply about animal rights, social justice and the environment. She's a gadget freak and camera aficionado with a book collecting addiction and a mean sweet tooth. Has pen, will travel.



  • Paul Ross

    Before some environmentalist loose their sense of rational thinking. They should think about why people seal hunt in canada. For hundreds of years now, not only aboriginals but settlers from french and english colonies have made their livihood on seal hunting. Its part of cultural heritage. Prior to the mass war on the seal hunt, Brian Davies IFAW headquarters were in Canada. Didnt work out too well for him, since he moved his headquarters to the U.S because of the pro sealing demonstrations in Canada. If anyone looks into his organization they’ll realize its not a very creditable one.

  • David B.

    I personally am not sure that this is an issue of morals. Granted, I don’t like the thought of killing – not an animal or an insect; not even a houseplant. But my question would be – who does?

    It seems that a lot of the arguments and attacks, and generally prevalent perceptions of sealing, are all premised on the assumption that sealers are morally wicked individuals. This I do not believe.

    Maybe it’s because I have lived in relatively rural areas, and spent a lot of time amongst people who have a more direct relationship with nature than, say, many who have grown up in cities and have never farmed, fished, or hunted.

    So, if we can get past the assumption that sealers are just “greedy fisherman” out for blood – can we not then ask the question of whether or not their livelihoods can be sustainable? Farming, fishing, hunting, we all recognize, are activities that can be detrimental to nature if they unsustainable. Moreover, animals can suffer if best practices do not prevail (I throw in farming because of its effects on wildlife habitat, and because farmers must often pursue pest control measures to keep animals such as boar, rabbits, rats, etc. from eating their crops; and these are all sentient animals just like seals).

    But does this mean that we should stop all farming, all fishing, all hunting (all sealing)? Shouldn’t the question be more along the lines of – how do we do these things better? How do we conserve nature’s resources today so they are available for generations to come?

    Are any of the animal rights groups that oppose sealing REALLY asking these questions ?

  • Marcie Gauntlett

    I am certainly not surprised at Sullivan’s failing to watch the seal carnage. It is apparent that he is, among other things, a coward. None of our letters, appeals, rallies, or personal pleas have moved this man to realize the moral damage he, the government, and Newfoundland & Labrador have brought upon Canada. We are fed up with the hypocrisy and the pandering for votes which is the only explanation for this yearly slaughter of innocent, sentient mammals. It is appalling to every decent citizen that our tax money is being spent to further their ridiculous, stubborn position. We can only hope that the Europeans come through for us this year and vote for this ban which will end this incredulous crime against nature.

  • At the public hearing in Brussels on January 21st, as Rebecca Aldworth of HSUS showed seal hunt footage, Canadian Ambassador of Fisheries Loyola Sullivan turned away, unwilling to watch the footage. Someone sitting near Sullivan watched as he kept his face averted until the film had concluded.

    Sullivan was part of a Canadian delegation representing Canada at the public hearing held in Brussels at which invited speakers made their case for and against commercial seal hunting.

    Why did Sullivan refuse to watch the footage? Was he afraid of the revulsion that surely would have registered on his face as he watched the brutal fashion in which Canadian sealers kill seal pups? Or perhaps he simply didn’t care. Personally, I hope the volume was turned up so he could not escape the haunting screams of terrified seal pups and the sickening sound of clubs hitting skulls.

    Considering Sullivan is in Europe once again to make false representations to the European Commission that commercial seal hunting in Canada is conducted in a humane fashion, he could have at the very *least* had the decency to actually watch the horror he was so strenuously defending and promoting.

    Loyola Sullivan is a hypocrite. He claims the commercial seal hunt is humane, yet he cannot bring himself to watch it.

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