Europe bans seal products
CANADA. European Union countries have ignored Canada’ s protests and given their final approval to a ban on imports of seal products in...
CANADA. European Union countries have ignored Canada’ s protests and given their final approval to a ban on imports of seal products in an effort to force Canada to end its annual seal hunt.
A majority of the EU's 27 member states see the way Canada conducts its hunt, which is the world's largest, as inhumane. The ban was approved without debate at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, although Denmark and Romania abstained from backing the measure, which Ottawa is protesting as an unfair trade restriction. Austria also abstained because it wanted an even stricter ban.
The EU ban will exempt products derived from traditional hunts carried out by Inuit in Canada's Arctic, as well as those from Greenland, Alaska and Russia. They can export products to the EU but only “on a not-for-profit basis.”
The International Fund for Animal Welfare applauded the EU decision as a “significant victory” in IFAW's 40-year campaign to end Canada's commercial seal hunt. “There is a wonderful sense of accomplishment today after years of hard work,” said Lesley O'Donnell, director of IFAW EU.
The EU gave its final approval just a day after the Canada made a last-ditch effort to persuade European politicians to vote against the ban. Trade Minister Stockwell Day and Fisheries Minister Gail Shea urged the European parliamentarians to think twice about supporting the ban. “The government of Canada is gravely concerned that the European Union is continuing to push for a ban on seal products without any consideration of an exemption for Canada's humane and sustainable seal hunt,” they said in a statement. They also threatened trade action against the EU if it went ahead with the ban.
“Should the EU choose to adopt a seal products trade ban that does not contain an acceptable derogation for humanely harvested seal products, Canada will defend its rights and interests under the relevant World Trade Organization agreements,” they said. Canada's commercial seal hunt occurs on the ice floes off Canada's East Coast in two areas: the Gulf of St. Lawrence (west of Newfoundland and east of the Magdalen Islands) and the "Front" (northeast of Newfoundland). Seals are killed primarily for their fur, which is used to produce fashion garments and other items. There is a small market for seal oil, and seal penises have been sold in Asian markets as an aphrodisiac. There is almost no market for the meat, so seal carcasses are normally left to rot on the ice. The Canadian Marine Mammal Regulations, which govern the hunt, stipulate sealers may kill seals with wooden clubs, hakapiks (large ice-pick-like clubs) and guns. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, clubs and hakapiks are the killing implement of choice, and in the Front, guns are more widely used.