European Efforts at Banning Seal Product Imports
Netherlands Bans Trade in Seal Products
THE HAGUE, 19/05/07 - The cabinet has decided to ban the import, trade and possession of fur, skins, oil and other products made from seals. The ban applies to two species, the harp seal and the blueback (Cystophora cristata).
The import of skins or products manufactured from the skins of young seals (up to around 12 days) of both species is already banned throughout the EU. "The large-scale hunt has however shifted to animals slightly older than 12 days", explained the Agriculture and Nature Ministry. "The cabinet is concerned about issues including the population count, the decline in the habitat quality of the seals and the hunting methods used".
The cabinet decision now taken introduces a ban regardless of age category. "An exception applies to products originating from the traditional hunt by the Inuit people, to live animals and to products that have previously been lawfully brought to the Netherlands", said the ministry. The decision to introduce the ban meets with a wish by the Lower House.
In Belgium, a comparable trade ban is in place, and Germany is also preparing such a ban. The Dutch government will continue insisting on a ban at EU level, but up to the present there is insufficient support for such a measure.
France to Ban Seal Product Imports
Raggedy jacket harp seal pup (c) IFAW
April 12, 2007
In a letter sent today to IFAW and SPA, the Minister of Ecology and Sustainable Development of France wrote, "Thursday the 12th of April, you presented to me your request for the prohibition of the trade in France of the products from the seals killed in Canada. After examination of your arguments, I assure you that the President of the Republic decided to take favorable action pursuant to your request. Thus, article 3 of the decree of 27 July 1995, relating to the list of the marine mammals protected in our territory, will be modified to extend the prohibition which relates currently only to the seals of less than four weeks to all the age groups.
Austria Bans Seal Product Imports
23 April 2007 - Reported in New Europe, Issue : 726
Austrian Parliament on April 20 passed a motion to ban the sale of seal skins. The votes of all five parties were represented and a broad consensus across the political spectrum was achieved in the vote, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported.
Germany moves to ban seal imports
Feb 26, 2007 01:23 PM
HALIFAX – Animal welfare groups in Canada are declaring a major victory in their battle with Ottawa over the East Coast seal hunt.
Earlier today, Germany's agriculture minister said he will introduce a national ban on imports of seal products.
Horst Seehofer said he has repeatedly urged the European Union to prohibit imports of seal products, but has grown tired of waiting for action.
The Humane Society of the United States says the proposed ban will eliminate 20 per cent of Canada's market for unprocessed seal pelts.
The annual hunt took about one million seals between 2003 and 2005, and the quota was set at 325,000 last year.
The Canadian government insists the spring hunt is humane and sustainable, but animal welfare groups have long called for a ban because they believe it is a cruel slaughter.
Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn wasn't immediately available for comment.
The hunt mainly produces harp seal pelts that are used in the fur and fashion industries, mostly in Europe.
The EU Commission in January rejected appeals for an EU-wide ban, arguing that a 1983 EU law that imposes limited bans on the import of fur taken from seal pups "provides adequate response" to concerns presented by the European Parliament.
Earlier this month, the British government said it would press its EU neighbours to introduce an import ban.
EU rejects appeal for total ban on Canadian seal products
by CONSTANT BRAND
Jan. 26, 2007
BRUSSELS — The European Union's executive commission rejected appeals Friday for an EU-wide ban on the import of seal fur products to force the closure of Canada's annual seal hunt.
The EU head office said a 1983 EU law which imposes limited bans on the import of fur taken from young seal pups “provides adequate response” to concerns presented by the European Parliament.
The EU assembly voted last year demanding the European Commission introduce a total ban on seal products in protest of what EU lawmakers called cruel and inhumane hunting tactics used to kill seal pups for their skins, notably in Canada.
In an official response sent to the legislators, the commission said reports it had seen on inhumane hunting methods were “partly contradictory.”
However, it said the EU would take “all necessary steps to ascertain the use of humane hunting standards for seals, and if deemed appropriate, propose ... to take action,” in wake of “the high level of public concerns” over the issue.
The Commission said the population of seals in Canada's Arctic and Atlantic regions “has grown significantly” in the last three decades from just under two million to around six million harp seals alone, adding the seals were not listed as endangered species.
Legislators said however that the inaction by the EU was hypocritical as it seeks to impose a separate ban on all imports of dog and cat fur into the 27-nation bloc.
“Commercial seal hunting is a brutal and cruel practice, targeting seal pups only a few weeks old,” said Carl Schlyter, a Swedish Green party member of the EU parliament, who visited the annual seal hunt off Canada's eastern coast last year.
He said Europe remains the largest market for seal fur, “so introducing an EU ban on seal products would be a crucial step toward ending this barbaric cull.”
However, Canada says the biggest market for its seal products remains Norway, which is not a member of the EU.
Mr. Schlyter said current rules were insufficient in preventing the import of fur taken from seal pups.
Current EU rules impose a ban on seal products derived from newborn harp seals less than 12 days old and young hooded seals less than one year old.
Environmental and animal rights groups argue the rules allow hunters to go after the pups once they reach an age just over the ban limit.
The European Parliament's appeal and moves by several EU nations like Belgium to introduce national bans caused widespread anger in Canada. Canadian Fisheries Minister, Loyola Hearn, told Belgian politicians last year to think about Canadian soldiers who died in Europe during the First World War before slamming the door shut on Canadian seal products.
Belgian legislators, however, voted unanimously on Thursday to back a national ban on the import of all seal products into the country, becoming the first EU country to do so. Germany, Italy and the Netherlands are also currently working on similar bans.
Canadian officials have defended the hunt saying it is vital to the survival of aboriginal peoples in the Arctic and provided an economic lifeline for a region desperate for jobs and growth.
The seal hunt also employs around 6,000 Atlantic Canadians per year.