HSI/Canada Statement on Temporary Suspension of EU Seal Product Trade Ban

The European Court of Justice temporarily suspended the European Union prohibition on seal product trade in response to an application by certain Inuit and seal industry groups. The suspension will stay in effect only while the Court considers whether to grant the applicants’ request for an injunction.

Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Cananda, issued the following statement in response to the Court’s decision:

“The EU ban on seal product trade eliminates EU trade in products of inherently inhumane commercial seal hunts, but specifically exempts products from traditional Inuit hunts.

“If the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is now claiming the prohibition will negatively impact their seal hunt, they are directly inferring that their hunt is conducted for commercial, rather than traditional subsistence, purposes.

“The Inuit seal hunt has always been presented to the global public as a traditional activity conducted for subsistence purposes, an activity that has been a part of Inuit culture for thousands of years. This is certainly not true of commercial seal slaughter.

“This suspension is temporary in nature and, while affording time for the applicants to present their case before the European Court of Justice, does nothing to prevent the EU ban from coming into force prior to the 2011 commercial seal hunt.”

Newly released video evidence of cruelty at the 2010 seal slaughter recorded by HSI/Canada shows that commercial sealing remains inhumane and the EU ban is a necessary measure to protect European values. B-roll from the 2010 hunt is available here, here and here.

Facts about Canada’s Commercial Seal Slaughter:

  • Canada’s seal slaughter targets defenseless baby seals. Canadian government kill reports show that 97 percent of the seals killed in recent years have been less than 3 months old, while most have been just 1 month old or less at the time of slaughter.
  • Veterinary experts argue that Canada’s commercial seal slaughter is inherently inhumane because of the extreme, uncontrolled environment in which the killing operates and the speed at which the killing must occur.
  • Global markets for seal products are closing. Canada’s two largest trading partners — the United States and the European Union — have both prohibited trade in seal products. Mexico and Croatia have also ended their trade in seal products, and animal protection groups the world over are urging more nations to follow suit.
  • The Canadian sealing industry achieved record low economic returns in both 2009 and 2010. While the industry brought in roughly $1 million in each of these years, the Canadian government estimates the cost of enforcement at the slaughter to be up to $3.6 million annually. In addition, the Canadian government has invested millions of dollars in promoting the sealing industry internationally and working to block prohibitions on seal product trade.
  • A boycott of Canadian seafood, that will continue until the seal slaughter ends for good, has already cost the Canadian economy many times the value of the sealing industry. More than 5,500 establishments and 650,000 people have pledged to avoid some or all Canadian seafood until the seal hunt ends for good. Recent polling conducted by Ipsos Reid shows that two-thirds of Newfoundland sealers holding an opinion are concerned about the impact of the boycott. 

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