25 January 2007
Historic achievement for IFAW's seal campaign
(Brussels - 25 January 2007) - The Belgian Parliament today voted
unanimously to implement a national ban on the import of all seal
products, making Belgium the first nation in the European Union to do
so. The ban closes the Belgian market for the commercial seal trade,
sending an important message to the Canadian government that Belgium
wants no part of Canada's cruel commercial seal hunt. IFAW applauds
this decision. Over the past years, its EU Office - together with the
Belgian NGO GAIA - has been calling for a national ban in Belgium.
"We would like to thank the Belgian Government, especially the three
ministers involved in the initiative, and the MPs who supported this
landmark decision. The Parliament vote will help to end the
commercial seal hunt by reducing demand for seal products," said
Lesley O'Donnell, Director of IFAW's EU Office. "This is a monumental
achievement for our founding campaign and we hope the Belgian example
will encourage other European nations to adopt their own national bans."
The Belgian Parliament's vote demonstrates to the Canadian Government
that markets for all seal products in Europe can be closed.
Throughout the past year, there have been strong steps to stop the
trade of seal products in Europe. 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.
"Belgium's ban indicates that European opposition to the seal hunt is
growing and global markets will continue to close until this cruel
hunt is ended," added Ms. O'Donnell.
Notes to the editor:
* According to EUROSTAT, Belgium imported in 2005 articles made of
seal furskin for a value of 3.5 million euros from non-EU countries
and for 1.3 million euros from EU Member States. It exported seal
furskin products to other EU countries for a value of 3.4 million
euros. The imported seal oil had a value of 4,867 euros.
* In September 2006, the European Parliament called for an end to the
trade in seal products. A total of 425 (of 732) MEPs signed a Written
Declaration setting a record for the highest number of signatures on
any single Written Declaration. The resolution asks the European
Commission to produce a legislative proposal for a seal ban. In
October 2006, the European Parliament adopted another resolution on
the Animal Welfare Action Plan which calls for an EU-wide ban on seal
* The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (www.coe.int)
called in November 2006 on its Member States to introduce national
bans on seal derived products.
* In December 2005, the Dutch Parliament initiated a legislative
proposal to ban the import/export and marketing of harp and hooded
seals and their derived products. The proposal is expected to be
adopted in the Parliament in February 2007.
* Italy introduced in 2005 a temporary ban on seal products. A
governmental proposal for a permanent ban is awaited.
* Last year, the German Parliament voted unanimously on a motion
urging the government to ban seal products.
* The European Union introduced in 1983 a ban on seal products
derived from whitecoats (newborn harp seals, less than 12 days old)
and bluebacks (young hooded seals, less than one year old).
Unfortunately, this ban is not effective in order to stop the current
trade of harp and hooded seal pelts in Europe. Today, seals are
hunted when they are just a few days older and their pelts can
therefore be legally traded in the EU which is still the largest market for seal products in the world.
* The United States, Mexico (both through a Marine Mammal Protection
Act, which prohibits the import/export and marketing of all marine
mammal products) and Croatia have already a ban on seal products.
For media-related inquiries, contact:
Günther Pauls (IFAW) - Tel: +32 (0)2 282 06 93 or 0473 863 461;
Email: gpauls@ifaw. org
Editors: for more information please visit www.ifaw.org