Just as I was about to write that seal hunters should start looking for new jobs because the EU ban on seal products would begin this week, I heard the ban was suspended.
Earlier today, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper criticized the European Union’s moratorium that was set to go into effect August 20. He called the EU’s decision “a disgrace that was not based on rational facts.”
He went on to say, “This is a flagrant discrimination against the Canadian seal industry, against Canadian sealers…people who are doing animal husbandry, no differently than many other industries.”
The leaders of the Canadian Inuit group also challenged the EU ban. They questioned the General Court of Justice about the legality of the ban and argued that it threatened their livelihood.
Ultimately the EU conceded to Canada’s demands and agreed to suspend the ban that would have protected harp seals.
They decided to wait until the Canadian government could bring its case to the World Trade Organization. This is a process that some say could take up to 3 years.
The moratorium would have stopped the trade of all seal products, except those hunted by traditional methods. The ban would have been recognized by 27 European countries.
It wasn’t a perfect law, but it was a triumph for international animal welfare groups that had been working for decades to save the seals.
Just yesterday Adrian Hiel of the International Fund for Animal Welfare told The Wall Street Journal, “I can’t think of a bigger victory.” IFAW saw the ban as a way to save hundreds of thousands of seals from Canadian commercial hunters.
Canadian seal hunters can slaughter as many as 300,000 harp seals annually. This year’s hunt was the first to see a decline in the numbers because pelt prices dropped significantly. Still the industry is reported to bring in $5.5 million in products each year, including pelts, meat and oil.
In the meantime, animal advocates say they will continue to protest the seal hunts and make people aware of their cruelty.
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