Seals are one of the numerous animals who have historically been hunted and killed for various uses. Wednesday, the European Union (EU) proposed a total import ban on products derived from seals that are killed in a cruel way. This proposition could hurt the annual seal hunt Canada which is the largest in the world. Anti-hunt campaigns claim seal killing in Canada is the cruelest because hunters there use spiked clubs and rifles to kill seals. Canada is not pleased with the EU proposal, claiming it would decimate isolated communities on Canada’s east coast who on heavily dependent on the annual seal hunt. The average annual kill there is about 300,000 harp seals, and in 2006, the annual kill brought in around $25 million! Several countries in the EU conduct seal hunts, including Finland, Great Britain, and Sweden. The largest markets for seal products are in Norway, China, and Russia, but about 1/3 of the trade in seal pelts, meat, and oils pass through the EU market. If the proposal goes into effect, Canada may take trade action against the EU. The EU would not ban seal products from countries that can guarantee that their hunting techniques did not cause any undue suffering and were committed swiftly. There would be special exemptions for Canada’s Arctic Inuit population. As a way to ensure the EU’s strict conditions, the ban suggests that countries issues certificates and labels that make it clear the conditions have been met.
Here’s a picture of a baby harp seal, in case the story didn’t fully tug your heart-strings.