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.
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.