European seal import bans violate Human Rights

    OTTAWA and ST. JOHN'S, April 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Members of the Canadian
pro-sealing delegation to Europe returned home shocked by the level of
ignorance European politicians displayed on issues of human rights and
wildlife conservation. "They are completely unaware of the grave impact their
import bans would have on the livelihoods and cultures of hunters and fishers
who depend on the hunt," said Rob Cahill, Executive Director of the Fur
Institute of Canada.
    "EU lawmakers are on the verge of taking misinformation from animal
rights extremists and turning it into laws that threaten the human rights of
coastal people to use their natural resources," Cahill said in a statement to
EU politicians. "This is extremely serious. This act would be counter to the
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and World Conservation Union (IUCN)
    Mr. Cahill was referring to Article 8.j. of the Convention on
Biodiversity (1992), which commits members to preserve the ability of
indigenous and local communities to use their traditional knowledge for the
conservation and use of local biological diversity. At their 2004 Congress,
the IUCN also formally urged its members not to introduce legislation that
bans the import or marketing of products from abundant seal populations.
    Germany, The Netherlands, England and Belgium, which have all either
passed laws against the import of Canadian seal products or are planning to
pass such laws, are party to IUCN and CBD agreements. The Canadian delegation
raised concerns about conservation and human rights with senior
decision- makers in Brussels, London and Berlin. (Politicians in The Hague
refused to even meet with the Canadian delegation.)
    "When we asked how the proposed seal import bans are consistent with
accepted IUCN policy, some EU politicians appeared unaware while others seemed
indifferent about the fact that the IUCN has urged its member governments not
to introduce any new import bans, said Trevor Taylor, Minister of Innovation,
Trade and Rural Development for Newfoundland & Labrador. "They were not
concerned that countries within the EU engage in seal hunting and it was
irrelevant that conservation and animal welfare measures exist for hunting
species like boar, deer and muskrat, even within their own borders. They have
turned a blind eye in their own countries, yet they continue to criticize
    Eugene Lapointe, the former Secretary General of CITES and president of
IWMC World Conservation Trust, stated, "Sustainable use is a conservation
principle that will be defended. Local communities must stand up and fight for
their rights and traditions. The well-regulated hunting of seals is as fully
justified as any other sustainable use of wildlife, a principle now supported
by every serious conservation organization on the planet. Unfortunately, most
European politicians and animal rights activists, being so remote from nature,
have completely forgotten, ignored, or simply do not understand the full
meaning of Sustainable Use for people and wild species alike."

    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 Government, Inuit, Veterinarians, Conservationists, Health care
practitioners and Industry representatives. For more information, please go to or

    The Convention on Biological Diversity is one of the most broadly
subscribed international environmental treaties in the world. Opened for
signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, it currently has
190 Parties--189 States and the European Community--who have committed
themselves to its three main goals: the conservation of biodiversity,
sustainable use of its components and the equitable sharing of the benefits
arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. The Secretariat of the
Convention is located in Montreal. Article 8 of the Convention on Biodiversity
can be viewed on line at

For further information:

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

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