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In 2010 the European Parliament voted in a historic decision, closing 27 national markets to products made from commercially slaughtered seals. The ban was a victory for many animal welfare groups like WSPA, who had campaigned for this decision, with huge support from the European public.
Unsurprisingly, the seal fur industry, backed by industry lobby groups, commercial and Inuit sealing interests, challenged the EU-wide ban via a court case.
The case, now dismissed, failed on the basis that it was ‘inadmissible’ with the European Court not needing to get to the merits of the case to reach this conclusion.
Joanna Toole, WSPA International Oceans Campaign Coordinator commends the ruling, “Rejecting this attempt to undermine the EU ban means that thousands of seals can be spared the unacceptable cruelty of commercial sealing, as the ban makes a huge dent in the market for seal products.”
Although the hunts themselves are not banned, the restrictions on where products can be traded mean that commercial hunts like those in Canada, Namibia and Norway will struggle to survive.
This ruling further reinforces the findings of a study commissioned by international animal welfare organisations, including WSPA, which demonstrates the greater economic benefits that can be gained through seal watching as opposed to seal hunting. The study focuses on the annual Namibian seal hunt, which is responsible for the deaths of up to 85,000 seal pups every year, and reveals that seal watching in Namibia is worth 300 per cent more than seal hunting