National Round Table Applauds Government of Canada's Defence of Sustainable Use Principles

    OTTAWA, Aug. 1 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadians are applauding the Government of
Canada's announcement that it will seek formal consultations under the World
Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement process to address Belgium's ban
on the importation of seal products.
    "I believe the Belgian ban contravenes not only the rules of
international trade established under the WTO but also the recommendations of
the IUCN (World Conservation Union) and the United Nations Convention on
Biological Diversity," said Bruce Williams, Chairman of the Fur Institute of
Canada, a national round table of government, Aboriginal, conservation, animal
welfare and trade interests. "This rejection of the sustainable use philosophy
by Belgium absolutely must be addressed," added Mr. Williams.
    Rejection of a sustainable use approach to conservation would have
devastating effects on rural and Aboriginal people who rely on hunting seals
for food, oils and pelts as a way to sustain a rural lifestyle and earn hard
income. One has to ask why seals have been singled out for import bans when
sealing has been proven time and again to be humane and sustainable. There is
very little to distinguish seal hunting from managed hunts in Europe or the US
for other species like deer, muskrat, or boar, aside from the massive
misinformation on the subject spread to the public from animal rights groups.
    "Although it is unfortunate that Canada has had to resort to trade
dispute mechanisms to protect Canada's environmental conservation practices,
we are pleased that our government is prepared to stand up for sound
conservation principles and practices and for rural Canadians." stated Fur
Institute of Canada Executive Director Rob Cahill. "By challenging the Belgian
seal import ban at WTO, Canada will finally be able to expose how the facts
about seal hunting in Canada and around the world have been ignored."

    The Seals and Sealing Network operates under the Fur Institute of Canada,
a national non-profit organization promoting sustainable and wise use
principles. The Seals and Sealing Network is committed to the conservation and
respectful harvesting of the world's seal species through sound scientific
management and internationally accepted sustainable use practices. It
comprises government, Inuit, veterinarians, conservationists, health care
practitioners and industry representatives. For more information, please go to and


    The Northwest Atlantic Harp seal population, estimated at 5.8 million
animals, has tripled in size in the past 20 years even while hunting has
continued. This population is the most abundant seal species in the northern

    It has been illegal to hunt "white coat" seals since 1987.

    The seal hunt contributes as much as 30% of household income in Canada's
out-port east coast communities, not including the food value of the meat.
Processing of seal by-products employs hundreds of people in coastal
communities for 52 weeks a year.

    The Independent Veterinarians Working Group has found the Canadian harp
seal hunt to be humane, with 98% of kills comparing "very favourably" to
killing methods in North American abattoirs.

    A single harp seal consumes 1 tonne of fish per year.

    At the 3rd IUCN World Conservation Congress (November 2004), the Fur
Institute of Canada, joined by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, sponsored a motion condemning the proposed Belgian
law. The final recommendation, passed overwhelming in both the government and
NGO "houses", urged all member governments to impose no new import bans on
seal products coming from abundant populations.

For further information:

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

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