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European Union Finalizes Seal Product Ban
European markets to officially close in 2010
BRUSSELS - July 27 - The Council of the European Union today adopted the regulation to ban the trade of all seal products within the EU. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org) applauds the adoption as the last step of approval before the implementation of this momentous legislation. The ban is a significant victory in IFAW's 40 year campaign to end Canada's commercial seal hunt.
"There is a wonderful sense of accomplishment today after years of hard work," said Lesley O'Donnell, Director of IFAW EU. "Already this year we've seen how the prospect of the ban dampened the seal hunt and saved the lives of thousands of seals. Over the coming year we will closely monitor the implementation process until the ban comes into enforcement which should be during the summer of 2010. We expect the commercial seal hunt to continue its inevitable decline over the coming years until it is wiped out once and for all."
The Canadian government has made it clear that it will continue to enthusiastically pursue trade negotiations with the EU over the coming months and years regardless of this trade ban.
The minute financial contribution of the seal hunt in Canada is more than offset by the indirect subsidies required and the costs incurred by the hunt. According to a Canadian government website the 2009 commercial seal hunt was worth less than €1 million. In contrast, the Canadian government expects a Canada-EU trade deal to increase trade by €26 billion.
IFAW supports Austria's symbolic decision to abstain from voting for the ban in protest of the exemptions in the legislation. IFAW believes that even with these exemptions the trade in seal products will effectively come to an end in Europe and that any compromises in the legislation are acceptable in view of the tremendous strides forward in animal welfare.
The abstentions of Romania and Denmark were unfortunate as they showed clearly that pursuit of economic gain trumps any animal welfare concerns.
"While the EU has shown that it is serious about maintaining its position as a moral leader in the world Denmark and Romania have taken this opportunity to show that they would rather risk their good names than miss out on the possibility of profit," continued O'Donnell.
IFAW has been working towards the seal ban for many years. One of the biggest milestones was the Belgian national ban on seal products. "Belgium was the first EU country take a stand on this abhorrent industry and without their bravery we likely would not have achieved this tremendous success today. IFAW supporters around the globe are thankful to Belgium and the people of Belgium for their vital role in hastening the demise of this antiquated and unnecessary business," said O'Donnell.
IFAW is calling on the public to increase pressure on Canada by contacting their Canadian embassies and demanding an immediate end to Canada's commercial seal hunt. Online tools for sending messages to embassies are available at www.ifaw.org