Today is a day to celebrate. The European Union has slammed shut the door on trade in the products of the commercial seal slaughter.
The Canadian government used every trick in the book to try to derail the ban: massive lobbying, misinformation, and even threats of trade reprisals. But the EU stood its ground and honored its citizens’ opposition to this trade in cruelty. By doing so, the EU has saved millions of seals from a horrible fate.
Every year, the ProtectSeals team has endured hazardous conditions to document the seal hunt. We are committed to showing the world that the Canadian government is lying when it claims that the hunt is humane.
On our trips to the ice, the ProtectSeals team has brought key opinion shapers such as Paul McCartney and Swedish Member of the European Parliament Carl Schlyter. After their trips, neither has wavered in speaking out against the hunt. Shortly after his trip to the ice, Schlyter drafted the first version of today’s EU ban. Our hunt footage was directly responsible for convincing the rest of the EU to agree to the ban. It gives me enormous satisfaction to know that we haven’t just documented the hunt, we have made history.
What Does It Mean?
This is the beginning of the end for the Canadian seal hunt. The Canadian government estimates that losing this primary market will cost Canada’s sealing industry $6.6 million (CAD) each year. The hunt brought in less than $7 million last year. It's not hard to do the math.
Just the promise of an EU ban was enough to drive the prices for seal fur down to $15 (CAD) per skin -- a decline of 86 percent since 2006. As a result, many sealers stayed home. Out of this year's quota of 280,000 harp seals, fewer than 60,000 have been killed so far.
Now that the EU has banned its trade in seal products, countless more seals will live their lives in peace from this year forward.
Canadian seal hunt supporters won’t give up just yet. With government subsidies still in hand, the sealing industry will be chasing down new markets. The ProtectSeals campaign is working to convince all targeted nations to follow the EU’s example.
We’re keeping the pressure on the Canadian fishing industry and government with the global boycott of Canadian seafood products. Since the boycott began, the Canadian fishing industry has suffered a $750 million (CAD) drop in the value of snow crab exports alone to the United States.
Canadian Senator Mac Harb has introduced his nation’s first bill to end the hunt. The ProtectSeals campaign is striving to convince other members of Canada's Parliament to support the bill.
Yes, there is still much to do -- and if you'd like to help, please visit humanesociety.org/protectseals to learn how. But for the moment, please join me in celebrating this historic victory. Thank you for fighting alongside me to make this day possible. The seals could not ask for stronger allies.
Director of Canadian Wildlife Issues
The Humane Society of the United States
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