Victory for HSUS, PETA: EU bans seal products, striking a blow to Canadian seal hunt

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In its second recent decision on behalf of animals, the European Union has joined the United States, Mexico, and Croatia in closing its borders to the internationally-condemned seal slaughter.  In an article on the HSUS website, Rebecca Aldworth says,

I grew up in sealing country, and I have observed the commercial hunt for 11 years. In that time, I have witnessed cruelty that no thinking, compassionate person could ever accept. It has been difficult, often heartbreaking. But I have always known that in bearing witness to this slaughter, we can stop it…

…This is the beginning of the end for the Canadian seal slaughter. The EU was a primary market for Canadian seal products, and the Canadian government estimates the loss of the EU market will cost Canada’s sealing industry $6.6 million (CAD) annually. Given that the landed value of the Canadian seal hunt last year was less than $7 million, the implications are enormous.

With this ban, the EU joins the United States (which outlawed seal products in 1972) and Mexico and Croatia, which ended the trade in 2006. Soon there will be nowhere left to trade the products of cruel commercial seal slaughters, and seals will be worth more alive than dead.

Seals’ lives have already been saved. Just the promise of an EU ban was enough to drive this year’s price 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 Canada’s quota of 338,200 seals, fewer than 60,000 have been killed to date. By the regulated closing date of the seal hunt—May 15—it is likely more than a quarter of a million baby seals will have been spared a horrible fate.

Now that the EU has banned its trade in seal products, countless more seals will live their lives in peace from this year forward.

If you haven’t heard of the Canadian seal slaughter, or if you want to learn more about the campaign against it, visit Protect Seals 2009.

Interestingly, then-Senator Barack Obama sent PETA a letter in 2006 expressing his outrage over the annual seal hunt.  According to ecorazzi,

“I share your concerns about the Canadian seal hunt,” Obama wrote to a member of People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, in the letter, dated April 13, 2006. “As you know, Canada annually opens its eastern waters to commercial seal hunting. The United States and European Union have been unified in their opposition to the slaughter of seals by passing legislation decades ago to restrict the sale of seal-based products within their borders,” Obama wrote. “I certainly believe in the spirit of these acts; the U.S. should not condone this recent Canadian action.”

PETA recently rediscovered the letter in files it keeps of correspondence with the US government and released it today in an effort to drum up support for ending the hunt and remind Obama of his previous sentiments. “The rediscovery of this letter came as a surprise. But we are not totally shocked by what Obama said because so far he has been very responsive on animal rights,” said Dan Mathews, senior vice-president of PETA said to The Star. “But there is obviously an opportunity now for Obama to use his good office to renew and fulfill this pledge. We are anxious to hear a response from the White House.”

So far, no comment from the White House — but it’s great to hear that Obama is already on board for ending this inhumane hunt. Let’s see if his Presidential power moves us any closer to stopping it once and for all.

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