EU proposed ban on seal products discriminatory and irresponsible

    OTTAWA, July 23 /CNW Telbec/ - According to a leading Canadian proponent
for wildlife sustainability and wise-use, legislation proposed on July 23rd by
the European Commission discriminates against commercial sealing and
undermines good, humane hunting practices. The Fur Institute of Canada (FIC)
also says the proposal to ban the import of seal products is not needed to
protect Canada's overly abundant seal populations and is inconsistent with
World Trade Organization agreements for fair trade and with the obligations
under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
    "The proposed legislation is discriminatory in its treatment of different
sealing practices and different sealing peoples," says Rob Cahill, executive
director of the Institute. Canada's Inuit have opposed a suggested trade
exemption for people hunting for subsistence, saying it will not protect them.
If passed, a ban targeting commercial sealing will disrupt world markets for
all seal products, says Cahill, and will cause financial and social hardships
to all isolated communities that rely on the trade.
    While the FIC remains committed to best practices for animal welfare, it
believes that the proposed legislation will fail to achieve and could even
discourage them. By targeting only commercial sealing, the European Commission
makes an arbitrary distinction between practices based on end use, rather than
the activity itself. When it comes to animal welfare, the FIC claims that this
approach risks creating a destructive double standard, and claims that the
EU's requirements for welfare are vague and impractical.
    "We don't want to see the practices in a well-regulated seal trade go the
route of those practices in some parts of Europe," says Mr. Cahill, "where
seals are hunted as pests and where questions of good welfare simply aren't
asked or required."
    Tellingly, the proposed legislation fails to address the findings of an
independent report commissioned through the European Food Safety Authority
(EFSA). That study, released late last year, recognizes that Canadian sealing
can be and is in large part conducted humanely. The Commission's proposal
therefore threatens to undermine legitimate practices and ongoing efforts to
continue to improve these practices.

For further information:

For further information: or interviews: Rob Cahill, Executive Director,
(613) 231-7099, Cell: (613) 878-0034

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