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European Union bans the trade of seal products

Canada Seal HuntToday the European Parliament voted 550 to 49 in favour to ban the trade of all seal products (such as fur and omega-3) within the European Union. The new EU-wide legislation is meant to send a clear signal to Canada that their annual commercial slaughter of seals is "inherently inhumane."

"The legislation follows lobbying by animal welfare groups, which have long argued that the clubbing of seal pups by hunters is barbaric.

Canada kills about 300,000 seals annually off its east coast - the biggest such hunt in the world."

Stavros Dimas, European Commissioner for the Environment, welcomed the new ban and said that the new legislation "addresses EU citizens' concerns with regard to the cruel hunting methods of seals."

Caroline Lucas, MEP for the Greens in the UK, said that "today, nearly one million seals are slaughtered annually in commercial seal kills around the world", and that this new legislation will help end "one of the most vile examples of animal cruelty."

The new ban will come with exceptions for Inuit communities and other indigenous peoples from Canada and Greenland which will be allowed to continue their traditional hunts. But they are not allowed to participate in any large-scale trade of seal products within EU.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) applauded the new legislation and said it was a major victory in the organizations 40 year campaign to end Canada’s commercial seal hunt.

"The Parliament has hammered the final nail in the coffin of the sealing industry’s market in the EU," said Lesley O'Donnell, Director of IFAW EU. "MEPs clearly heeded the tens of thousands of emails, postcards and messages sent by IFAW supporters from across Europe."

"From Mexico City to Milan and all the way to Moscow, the world is uniting in opposition to commercial seal hunts,” continued O’Donnell. “A complete collapse of Canada’s commercial seal hunt may now be inevitable."

Canada and Norway have warned that they will take the European Union and its 27 member nations to the World Trade Organization if they agreed on a ban on seal product imports.

It is feared that the new EU ban will overshadow any other topics during the EU-Canada summit in Prague this week. The summit is meant to launch negotiations for a new economic and free trade agreement between Europe and Canada as well as strengthening efforts to build a low-carbon global economy.

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