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WSPA congratulates the European Parliament on closing 27 national markets to products made from commercially slaughtered seals. Today’s historic vote proves that mass public opposition to cruelty can create change.
The parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of a ban: 550 MEPs in favour to 49 opposing.
In force from 2010, the EU ban on the sale of seal products offers a lifeline to thousands of seals who seemed fated to suffer the guns and clubs of commercial hunts.
WSPA’s Marine Mammal Programme Manager, Claire Bass, celebrated the victory: “The people of Europe were clear in demanding a ban and the Parliament has listened. Many individuals and institutions have fought for this, notably the Humane Society International, IFAW, many of our member societies and WSPA itself. All should be congratulated.”
Today’s result shows the power of uniting to protect animals: the regulation’s text recognises that public opposition to the cruelty of sealing was a key driver for the ban.
The ban recognises the extreme and unacceptable cruelty of commercial sealing.
While Canada and Norway threaten to file a complaint, the legislation is robust. Animal welfare groups are confident that ban complies with World Trade Organization guidelines.
The ban contains an exemption for limited sale of products from subsistence hunts by indigenous communities, but European markets will be firmly closed to products from the vast, profit-led hunts of Canada, Namibia and others – responsible for the inhumane deaths of hundreds of thousands of seals every year.
This milestone ban puts a huge dent in the market for seal products: the EU accounts for around one quarter of the world trade. This is a global trend: Russia outlawed seal hunts just weeks ago; the USA and Mexico have already banned the sale of seal products.
The collapse of Canada’s commercial seal hunt – the largest marine mammal hunt in the world – may now be inevitable. Sealers themselves have decided not to go hunting this year, citing a lack of demand for seal products.
“This is a major milestone in international efforts to protect seals – today we are one very big step closer to making blood stained ice floes and beaches a thing of the past,” Claire concluded.