Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Seal Woes

Never too late to discuss the seal hunt now that the season is safely past and months after the controversy over Belgium and the EU plan to expand the seal hunt ban.

Both the Liberals and Conservatives defend the seal hunt in this discussion last week in the House. My how nice of them, after the protesters have all gone home.




Monday, June 18, 2007

Fisheries and Oceans

Hon. Gerry Byrne (Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Members of the European Union are putting a squeeze on Canadian fishermen through an illegal ban on seal products. In a flagrant violation of international trade law, Belgium has now banned Canadian seal products on the basis of domestic public concern.

Action must be taken by the government before other EU members consider enacting similar bans due to a perceived lack of consequences.

Will the minister and his colleagues formerly commit to launching WTO actions against EU members that are illegally banning Canadian seal products?

Hon. Loyola Hearn (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question is actually a pretty good one.

First, let me ensure that everyone knows the EU itself has not banned or will not ban seal products. It has admitted that the seal hunt is conservationist. Second, it is looking now at the humaneness of the hunt, and we hope to be able to prove that also.

Individual member states, some of them including Belgium, have banned seal and seal products. This is a serious precedent. We cannot put up with it and we will take action.

Meanwhile here is an interesting fact: Norway is the largest importer of Canadian seal pelts, but it is not an EU member.

The anti-seal campaign focuses on Canada and our seal hunt quotas, but overlooks the fact that the Greenland hunt also hauls in as many seals as Canada does. Though in the case of Greenland the hunt is conducted by indigenous natives, while in Canada it is conducted by the descendants of Ireland and Scotland.

What gets overlooked in this whole debate is that the seal hunt is sustainable, and that quotas can be reduced. That would be the environmentally sound thing to do. However those who oppose the hunt offer nothing but a complete ban on the hunt, which would have just as negative an impact as an uncontrolled hunt.

An Enviro's Case for Seal Hunt

Cuter than cod

Opponents prefer sentiment to sustainability.

By Terry Glavin
Published: March 7, 2007

The Newfoundland seal hunt is transparently and demonstrably sustainable and humane. There are roughly half a million people in Newfoundland and Labrador, and nearly six million harp seals, which is almost three times as many seals as when I was a kid.

Canada's Annual Seal Slaughter

Meanwhile, a mini trade war is brewing. It looks to be more than just a minor spat. Over a week ago, outraged by the seal hunt, the German minister of agriculture proposed to bring a bill in front of the Bundestag banning the importation of sealskins or any related products from Canada. Sure enough, as the ice beings to melt, Ottawa took immediate counter-measures.

A Canadian member of parliament from Newfoundland, the province that benefits the most from the seal trade, now seeks to forbid the importation of German boar and dear meat. This diplomatic tit for tat is unlikely to stop the seal hunt. However, the issue is nevertheless a very hot one in Europe. Germany, as mentioned above, is considering a ban on seal products; Belgium has already banned them. And Britain is pushing for a European Union wide ban.

Britain blasted for backing seal ban

Canada reacts angrily to UK's support for full boycott of animal products on eve of cull

Juliette Jowit in Newfoundland
Sunday February 11, 2007
The Observer

Canada has attacked Britain's 'moral' decision to support a Europe-wide boycott of all seal products, as hunters prepare for the annual cull of around 300,000 baby seals.

At present Europe bans only products made from seals under 12 days old, known as 'whitecoats', but the UK is putting pressure on the rest of the EU to join Belgium and Italy, as well as the United States and Mexico, in introducing a blanket rejection of the industry, which is worth £22m to Canada. The Canadian government is frustrated that the British position is based on 'public morality concerns' rather than scientific evidence.

Greenland to Challenge Belgium If Sealskin Is Banned (Update1). Bloomberg (2007)

Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Greenland will sue Belgium if ``fanatics'' there succeed in banning sealskin imports, a move that would violate European Union law and cripple the livelihood of Inuit hunters, the foreign minister said.

The island has set up a taskforce with Denmark to stop sealskin bans in the EU, the Danish foreign ministry said today. If Belgium passes such a law, Greenland's foreign minister said he'll ask the European Commission to take legal action against the country for violating the law of the internal market.

Greenland's indigenous population, the Inuits, kill about 180,000 seals each year for meat and skin. The island's hunters mainly kill adult seals and use rifles rather than clubs. Sealskin is one of a few exports other than fish and shrimp for the semi- autonomous Danish territory.

``Belgian politicians are afraid of strong animal welfare activists and fanatics, and that will harm an innocent country,'' Josef Motzfeldt, Greenland's minister for finance and foreign affairs, said in a telephone interview late yesterday from the capital city of Nuuk. ``If Belgium passes this law, many other EU countries might follow.''

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM--( 25 Jan 2007) - In a landmark unanimous vote, the Belgian Parliament has banned the import of all seal products.

"We applaud the Belgian Government for taking this historic step and reducing the demand for seal products derived from a cruel and unnecessary commercial seal hunt," said Lesley O'Donnell, IFAW EU Director.

"We hope the Belgian example will encourage other European nations to adopt their own national bans, closing the door on the trade in seal products."

Across Europe there is a groundswell of opposition to Canada's commercial seal hunt.

The German Parliament voted unanimously on a motion urging the government to ban seal products, just one month after the EU Parliament passed a Written Declaration in support of an EU-wide trade ban.

"There is a clear message being sent to the Government of Canada," said Olivier Bonnet, IFAW Director, Canada.

"It is time the Canadian Government stopped propping up an industry which has no future.

"In light of this ban, and the Government's own scientific data showing the current hunt is unsustainable, the commercial seal hunt must end."

A Victory for Seals in Europe | Humane Society International - Canada

September 8, 2006

By Rebecca Aldworth

Strasbourg, France—Today is a truly historic day for the seals. On Sept. 6, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling upon the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, to ban all trade in harp and hooded seal products. This is a crucial step towards the passage of legislation that will save millions of seals from a horrible fate.

The pups are killed for their fur, most of which is traded in European fashion markets. When the European Union bans the trade in all products from harp and hooded seals—regardless of their age—it will eliminate a market essential to Canada's commercial sealing industry. Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands are already in the process of implementing their own bans.

Clearly, Canada's Fisheries minister, Loyola Hearn, understands the enormity of such a ban. Last week he traveled to Belgium, attempting to convince that country to reconsider a prohibition on the import of seal products. In a statement that drew some criticism from his countrymen, Hearn said that Belgium's ban would take "the livelihood away from a number of Canadians whose family members left their blood on the fields here in Belgium, Flanders fields and other places" during World War II.


A Word From Our Sealers

Not So Cute Seals

Seals Threaten Fish

Royal Newfoundlanders Died For the Seal Hunt

Your Anti-Sealing Donation At Work

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