More than 50 Chinese environmental and animal advocacy organizations have sent an open letter to the Canadian senate asking that Canada stop exporting seal products to China, reports the Humane Society International.
“We are writing to the Senate because we are disappointed in the Canadian government,” said Madame Qin Xiaona, director of Beijing’s Capital Animal Welfare Association. “We want Canadian Senators to realize that Ottawa’s promotion of seal products in China is unwise and short-sighted. It has caused irreparable damage to Canada’s reputation in China. Our campaign against seal product trade will continue until the Canadian government ceases its efforts to promote these products of cruelty in China.”
The letter calls Canada’s commercial slaughter cruel, outdated and unnecessary and follows a growing number of bans on seal products around the world and comes weeks before the senate will debate a bill that would bring the commercial seal hunt to an end.
Please be assured that China will never become a dumping ground for products of cruelty that the rest of the world has so overtly rejected. Like their Canadian, American, European and Russian counterparts, Chinese consumers care about animal welfare and food safety, and we strongly oppose trade in products from commercial seal slaughters.
Statements by Canadian sealing industry representatives that seal meat should be in demand in China because “Chinese people eat anything” are offensive to say the least and highly misleading. In China, seals are a protected species, and seal meat is not a part of our tradition. Despite the massive subsidies invested by unwilling Canadian taxpayers for more than three decades to promote seal fur and meat in China, significant markets have never emerged. Knowing full well the public opposition to commercial sealing, the animal welfare problems associated with seal slaughters and the food safety issues surrounding seal meat, the Chinese authorities have, in fact, made no commitment to importing this product. Chinese consumers are increasingly concerned with food safety, and both the Chinese government and public are aware of the reported high levels of PCBs in seals.
The bill that could end the hunt, S-210, was introduced by Senator Mac Harb and moved forward this summer after receiving support from Senator Larry Campbell. The bill cites a lack of viable markets, opposition from a majority of Canadians, a dropping number of sealers who participated last year and scientific evidence that seals are not responsible for poor recovery of fish stocks as legitimate reasons for ending the hunt.
The legislation would provide compensation for fishermen and transition them out of this dying industry, but is still receiving opposition from legislators who want to see the slaughter continue, with at least one calling a debate over the issue a waste of taxpayer money …even though the real waste of money comes from Canada’s continued efforts to find markets for seal products and its decision to spend an estimated $10 million, far more than what the sealing industry is worth, by pursuing a legal challenge at the World Trade Organisation over the EU’s ban on seal products.
“Despite the millions of taxpayers’ dollars spent by the Canadian government to promote seal products in Southeast Asia, China has failed to emerge as a significant market for seal products,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “Chinese animal protection and environmental groups are more determined than ever to make sure their country does not become a dumping ground for these products.”
Hopefully, strong opposition from one of the last markets for seal products will bring this industry to an end once and for all.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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