European Commission confirms commitment to sustainable use principles - Belgium waffles

    OTTAWA, Jan. 31 /CNW Telbec/ - "We are encouraged by the European
Commission's reaffirmation that there is no conservation concern about harp or
hooded seal populations," said Bruce Williams, Chairman of the Fur Institute
of Canada (FIC). "We are equally discouraged by the Belgian Parliament's
decision to ignore the reasoned positions of both the Commission and the IUCN,
the World Conservation Union, and to proceed with legislation which will ban
all seal imports on the grounds that they are 'an affront to public decency'.
The FIC is guided by the principles of sustainable use, and Belgium's decision
runs counter to that."
    The European Commission's statement that there is no concern about seal
conservation is consistent with the policy position taken in 2004 by the IUCN.
The IUCN policy, overwhelmingly endorsed by both government and NGO members,
called for no new import bans on seal products coming from abundant
populations. When a wild species is abundant, trade bans discourage, rather
than encourage, sustainable use, the IUCN policy confirmed.
    Concerned by the growing misinformation on seal populations and sealing
practices around the world, the Fur Institute of Canada recently established a
Sealing Committee to ensure accurate information is available to legislators,
media and the general public. The FIC, whose membership includes all 13
provincial / territorial wildlife departments, Aboriginal, animal welfare,
conservation and industry interests, is a leading advocate for sustainable,
respectful management of Canada's wildlife resources.
    "Members of the FIC's Sealing Committee are pleased that the Commission
recognizes that the North West Atlantic harp seal herd has tripled in size in
the last 20 years," said FIC Executive Director Rob Cahill. "They have likely
also received the reports from the UK, the Baltic States, Namibia, Australia
and even the United States, that seal populations are abundant and increasing
in these areas and in some cases are impacting the health of local fish
    The Fur Institute of Canada is the national co-ordinator for
implementation of the Canada - EU - Russia humane trapping standards, which
will improve the welfare of the millions of wild fur-bearing animals trapped
annually in Europe, Russia and Canada. "Our members fully support the
Commission's interest in reviewing the welfare of humane hunting practices
around the world," said Mr. Williams.

    The Fur Institute of Canada, a national non-profit organization based in
Ottawa, was established in 1983 on the initiative of the Federal, Provincial
and Territorial Wildlife Ministers. Its overall mission is to promote the
sustainable and wise use of Canada's fur resources.

For further information:

For further information: Robert B. Cahill, Executive Director, Fur
Institute of Canada, (613) 231-7099 ext. 226,,

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