New Ban Will Have Ramifications for Other Industries
Fur Institute of Canada, July 27, 2009 – OTTAWA: Today, the Fur Institute of Canada and representatives from Canada’s seal trade described a move in the EU to ratify a ban on commercial seal products as “irresponsible and counterproductive – a completely political move – but not unexpected”. Members of the FIC’s Seals and Sealing Network insist that the new ban will also have ramifications for other industries depending on animal use.
Rob Cahill, executive director of the FIC, describes the legislation as a reaction to a decades-long smear campaign against the seal trade, led by NGO’s. “These hard-lining animal-rights groups have disguised their agendas with more publicly palatable ‘anti-cruelty’ campaigns,” he says. “But anyone who actually examines the final legislation will realize that this pretext is very misleading.”
Representatives from the seal trade claim that the ban makes no actual measures to encourage good sealing practices; in fact, it entirely ignores the question of animal welfare in practice. Exemptions exist for products traded from “marine management” culls, where seal numbers are kept depressed for reasons of pest control. Nations such as Sweden, Finland and the UK all partake in such practice.
Meanwhile, EU decision makers have rejected opportunities and requests to pursue further veterinary work and a humane standard for hunting seals.
David Barry, coordinator for the Seals and Sealing Network, claims the reason for this to be the purely political nature of this legislation, in its attack on the commercial seal trade. “Lobbyists have always needed a clear target when pushing an agenda, so they have struck on commercial trade and fabricated all kinds of reasons why people who hunt seals for a living are the world’s worst culprits for animal cruelty. Most politicians in Europe simply have not had the backbone to second guess this highly-charged rhetoric and to encourage realistic pursuits like an acceptable hunting standard.”
The end result of such targeting is highly arbitrary discrimination. Members of the SSN point out the exemptions for “politically acceptable products,” such as those resulting from Inuit hunting. “Ultimately, the trade itself is under attack,” says Barry, “and so-called exemptions for subsistence trade are only a way for EU politicians to save face; they will not help the Inuit who rely on the same markets as non-Inuit seal hunters.”
“At this point, we fully expect the Canadian Government to fulfil their commitment to seek a World Trade Organization ruling on this legislation,” says Rob Cahill. “This whole debate is no longer just about seals – we see this legislation setting a precedent against all animal use; so now our Government must engage on matters of trade and fair play.”
The Seals and Sealing Network operates under the Fur Institute of Canada, a national non-profit organization promoting sustainable and wise use principles. The Seals and Sealing Network is committed to the conservation and respectful harvesting of the world’s seal species through sound scientific management and internationally accepted sustainable use practices. It comprises government, Inuit, veterinarians, conservationists, health care practitioners and Industry representatives. For more information, please go to www.fur.ca or www.sealsandsealing.net.