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European Parliament Declaration Calls for Ban on Harp and Hooded Seal Products

Press release from The Humane Society USA | September 08, 2006

Strasbourg - The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International today applauded the European Parliament for passing a historic Declaration approving a European ban on the trade in harp and hooded seal products
"It is time the Canadian government respected the will of the overwhelming majority of Canadians, Europeans and Americans and ended this slaughter for good."
- Rebecca Aldworth, Director of Canadian Wildlife Issues for The Humane Society of the United States


The Declaration is a crucial first step in obtaining legislation. The Declaration exempts products from traditional aboriginal hunters.

"Industrial-scale seal hunting involves a thoroughly documented, consistent and unacceptable level of cruelty," said Carl Schlyter, Green MEP for Sweden and author of the resolution. "In approving a ban on seal products, the European Parliament is expressing the overwhelming opposition of its citizens to commercial seal hunts."

With more than one million seals killed in the past three years alone, Canada's commercial seal hunt is the world's largest slaughter of marine mammals. Veterinary experts who have studied the seal hunt in recent years have concluded it results in "considerable and unacceptable suffering" and scientists argue current kill levels pose a threat to seal populations, particularly in light of the potential devastating impacts of climate change on these ice dependent animals.

A large number of European journalists, parliamentarians and scientists have observed Canada's commercial seal hunt in recent years. Several European countries, including Belgium, Italy, Croatia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have taken steps to ban seal products. They join Mexico and the United States, which have banned all trade in marine mammal products.

"Global markets for seal products are fast closing, and an end is now in sight for Canada's commercial seal hunt" said Rebecca Aldworth, Director of Canadian Wildlife Issues for The Humane Society of the United States. "It is time the Canadian government respected the will of the overwhelming majority of Canadians, Europeans and Americans and ended this slaughter for good."

Public opinion polls consistently show high levels of European opposition to commercial seal hunting. 79 percent of UK residents believe that the annual Canadian seal hunt should be stopped and 73 percent support a ban on the import of seal products into Britain (Opinion Research Business, 2005). 95 percent of people in the Netherlands deem the Canadian commercial seal hunt to be unacceptable and 92 percent support a Netherlands ban on the trade in seal products (Dutch Institute for Public Opinion and Market Research, 2005). 91 percent of people in Germany and 80 percent of people in France who are aware of the Canadian seal hunt oppose it (MORI, 2002).

"The Parliament has spoken on behalf of its citizens. It is now incumbent upon the European Commission to enact legislation prohibiting the trade in harp and hooded seal products. The fate of millions of seals is now in the hands of the Commission," said Mark Glover, UK Director of Humane Society International.


editors note Humane Society International is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, with more than 9.5 million members and constituents. The non-profit organization is based in Washington and has numerous field representatives across the country and throughout the world. On the web at www.hsus.org.

Article has been adapted from a news release issued by The Humane Society USA.

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