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Russia Ends Its Seal-Killing

March 19, 2009 | Seals

Russia announced a ban on killing all harp seals less than one year old on March 18, 2009, which elminates a major hunting ground for harp seals, and could spare 35,000 seals. There's no word whether Russia will also eliminate a seal fur market by banning the importation and sale of seal products.

"The bloody seal slaughter, the killing of the defenseless animals, which can't be even called a 'hunt,' is now prohibited in Russia as it is in most developed countries. It is a serious step towards the conservation of biodiversity in Russia," said Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Yuriy Trutnev.

On April 1, the full European Parliament will vote on a ban of all seal products -- a move which the United States adopted almost three decades ago -- to eliminate a key trade route to major fur markets like Norway, Russia and China.

The ghastly massacre of seal pups is slated to begin in Canada within days, despite demonstrations inside Canada and a rare move when Senator Mac Harb from Ontario introduced legislation to cancel the pending slaughter. According to a report in The New York Times, Senator Harb "argued that the industry was dying, propped up by public tax dollars and costing Canada international good will. But his proposal died when Mr. Harb could not get another member to second his motion."

"There was silence. Total silence!" Senator Harb explained. "I was amazed that not one of my colleagues, from, any one of the political parties, would even want to debate the issue."

Sounds like the uproar inside Canada by Canadians needs to be ramped up with events across the country that direct protests where they're best aimed -- at Canada's politicians.


Embassy Online Saving Canada from Its Seal Hunt by Mac Harb Published Mar. 18, 2009 The majority of Canadians feel the costs of the commercial seal hunt, economic and otherwise, outweigh its meager benefits. It is time to transition Canadian sealers into sustainable, profitable industries. This is why I introduced Bill S-229, calling for an end to the commercial seal hunt while respecting treaty obligations and protecting the rights of Canada's Aboriginal People. Canada's commercial seal hunt is a dying industry based primarily on demand for fur for luxury items. But markets around the world are closing to seal products and sealers' earnings have plummeted. The price of pelts has dropped from $62 in 2007 to $31 in 2008, and will be even lower in 2009. Pelts are stacked up in warehouses --50,000 in Newfoundland, 140,000 in Greenland. No seal furs were sold at international fur auction in Copenhagen in all of 2008, and no seal pelts sold at the January 2009 fur auction in North Bay, Ontario. Yet Canadian taxpayers will continue to support the commercial seal hunt— paying for icebreakers, providing rescue support when sealers run into difficulty, marketing seal products, and sending delegations abroad to defend the hunt and lobby foreign governments. The commercial seal hunt has been supported to provide supplementary income for hard-hit communities in Canada's Atlantic region, but last year's $7-million hunt, divided among the 6,000 or so estimated active sealers, averages to about $1,100 each, before deducting their expenses. While not an insignificant sum, the risks and costs of the commercial hunt and its declining financial benefits render it useless as an economic lifeboat for sealers. And while the benefits are minimal, the costs are very high. The commercial seal hunt is complicating and damaging Canada's reputation around the world. In my travels as a member of Parliament and now as a senator, I have repeatedly encountered consternation and disbelief at the continuing existence of this outdated hunt. The fact is the majority of people and governments around the world are opposed to the Canadian commercial seal hunt. The United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Mexico and Panama have either banned seal product trade or have made moves to do so. These countries are home to 635 million people. The European Union will soon vote on a ban on trade in seal products. These international bans and widespread seafood and tourism boycotts are hurting the $1- billion East Coast fishery, causing significant damage to our tourism and trade sectors, and costing the Canadian economy millions in lost revenue. This is a serious matter as we struggle to cope with the current global economic crisis. Canada's trading partners have been consistently voicing their concern about the commercial seal hunt for decades. The commercial hunting of infant whitecoat and blueback seals was banned in Canada in 1987 as a borders. In 2005, Mexico's Chamber of Senators officially condemned the Canadian seal hunt. Canada's largest trading partner, the United States, has been very clear about its position. After banning the hunt in 1972, the Americans have repeatedly called for an end to Canada's commercial seal hunt through Senate resolutions, a widespread U.S.-led seafood boycott targeting the Atlantic seafood industry, a unanimous resolution passed in 2007 by the U.S. House of Representatives and a soon-to-be-tabled Senate resolution that will once again call on the Canadian government to end the commercial seal hunt. In 2008, total trade between Canada and the United States exceeded $650 billion. Significantly, Canada exports nearly two-thirds of its seafood to the U.S., producing $2.5 billion annually for the Canadian economy. To put this in perspective, Industry Canada statistics show the total value of sealskin exports from Newfoundland and Labrador in 2007 was about $8 million. The European Union is Canada's second largest trading partner. In 2008, two-way trade in merchandise reached $90.1 billion. In January 2009, Canada's minister of international trade, Stockwell Day, travelled to Prague seeking support for a closer Canada-EU economic relationship. At that time, the minister stated: "There is no doubt that a closer economic partnership with the EU will help Canadian businesses thrive in this market, providing jobs at home and lowering the cost of consumer products imported from the EU. I'm in Prague to lay the groundwork for this revitalized and strengthened economic partnership. I am confident that we will be in a position to launch negotiations this spring." But even as Minister Day was trying to build bridges with this important trading partner, another Canadian delegation was in Brussels, lobbying for the commercial seal hunt and threatening to go to the WTO for a challenge against the EU. When Minister Day launches trade negotiations this spring, the commercial seal hunt will open, observers will flock to the ice floes and the EU will vote on its ban on trade of seal products. Every year, people from around the world come to Canada's East Coast, not to take advantage of the famous maritime hospitality or the stunning scenery or even the growing eco-tourism activities of whale and seal watching. No, they come to stand on ice floes and send reports back to their home countries. Provincial, territorial and the federal governments spend millions promoting our tourism sector abroad and a few amateur video clips ensure that money is wasted. Canada's much-anticipated 2010 Winter Olympics are being targeted by animal rights groups as a platform to fight the commercial seal hunt.Attendance boycotts and photo ops will bring the attention of the world once again to the commercial seal hunt. Canada has too much at stake, as a trading partner and tourist destination, to allow the damaging effects of the dying commercial seal hunt to continue to stain our reputation and impede our progress on the international scene. The majority of Canadians do not support the commercial seal hunt. The people of our rural fishing communities deserve a more viable, profitable, long-term employment option. The 2009 Federal Budget established a $1-billion Community Adjustment Fund to help communities restructure. Resources and the will for change are now at hand to shift the economic focus of this region. We can take charge of this issue by putting an end to the commercial seal hunt. To do nothing, to refuse to even debate this issue, is quite frankly no longer an option. Mac Harb is a Liberal senator.

Seals should not have to be slaughtered, no matter what the circumstances. I have watched the videos and it is sickening what these so called men do to these poor seals. Leave them alone! Canada is being banned by many in the US until this is done!

I have absolutely no sympathy for killing seals to supplement your income. I had to move to another part of the country to find a job -- why are these people any better than I am? If you can't make a living there -- go where you can. Yes, its hard to leave your home but people have been doing it for thousands of years. The government should help with relocation and stop the slaughter!

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