OTTAWA, June 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Several European Union (EU) countries are
once again preparing to ban the import of seal products, despite the fact that
the EU supports renewed seal hunting activities in Scandinavia to the tune of
over (euro)100,000 per year since 2001.
According to the May 16 issue of Europolitics, the revival of the
European seal hunting business is co-financed by the EU government through a
community initiatives program called Interreg III Kvarken-MittSkandia. The
program aims to promote the image of the seal as a source of revenue rather
than a harmful species and threat to the future of fishermen. The program
includes courses on the treatment and use of skin, meat, and oils, improving
safety at sea, and hunting methods (respect for animals).
On April 28, 2007, a Belgian law came into effect officially banning the
import of seals, a move expected to be followed by the Netherlands, Germany,
UK, Austria and France. The website for Canada's Department of Fisheries and
Oceans (DFO), who manage the hunting of seals in Canada, says the hunt is
entirely sustainable. The harp seal population has grown from 1.8 million in
the 1980's to over 5.5 million today, even while the managed seal hunt
continues. Hunting quotas are determined through scientific processes and use
a precautionary approach to ensure the health of seal populations.
Very little differentiates how seals are hunted in Canada to how they are
hunted in Europe. Regardless, European lawmakers continue to incorrectly cite
"cruelty" as a basis for their bans. 90% of seals taken in Canada last year
were shot with high-powered rifles. The hakapik (or "club"), which is used the
balance of the time, is also considered by veterinarians to be a humane
weapon. "Having done the autopsy of hundreds of seals, I am convinced that the
use of a hakapik is a very efficient way to kill young seals because their
skull is so thin. In my opinion, it would be a serious mistake if the hakapik
were ever banned," said Pierre-Yves Daoust, Wildlife Pathologist for the
Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island.
"Something is out of balance - but it is not the managed seal hunt in
Canada," said Rob Cahill, Executive Director of the Fur Institute of Canada.
"It is reasonable for the EU to support managed and humane seal hunting in
their own territory, but it's the height of hypocrisy to tell Canada we can't
do the same thing. It is utterly inappropriate that EU lawmakers pander to
animal rights lobby groups on issues like biodiversity and conservation, but
it's excessively unjust when people's livelihoods and culture are being
treated as if they are disposable."
The Seals and Sealing Network, under the Fur Institute of Canada, a
national non-profit organization promoting sustainable and wise use
principles, is committed to the conservation and respectful harvesting of the
world's seal species through sound scientific management and internationally
accepted sustainable use practices. The Seals and Sealing Network is comprised
of Conservationists, Inuit, Veterinarians, Health care practitioners,
Government, and Industry representatives. For more information, please go to
www.fur.ca or www.sealsandsealing.net.
For further information:
For further information: Robert B. Cahill, Executive Director, Fur
Institute of Canada, (613) 231-7099