Canada's biggest market for seal skin has closed its doors, saying it
will no longer accept the pelts in any form -- a move animal-rights
activists say heralds the end of this country's commercial seal industry.
Russia, along with Belarus and Kazakhstan, have informed the World Trade
Organization that, effective last August, they have banned the import and
export of raw, tanned and dressed fur skin of harp seals and their pups.
Dec. 19, 2011, 7:01 a.m. EST
Death Knell for the Canadian Seal Hunt:
Russia Bans Trade in Harp Seal Pelts
TORONTO, ONTARIO, Dec 19, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- The
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is applauding the news that
Belarus, Kazakhstan, and the Russian Federation have banned the import
and export of harp seal skins. Canada claims that Russia is one of the
last two major remaining markets for Canadian seal products, reportedly
receiving up to 90% of Canada's exports of seal pelts. The IFAW says
is a major victory in the campaign to end commercial sealing, and
should send a strong message that this is an industry whose time
"Russia ended its own hunt of harp seals in 2009, after listening to the
concerns of the people who felt it was a cruel and unnecessary
slaughter," said Masha Vorontsova, Director of IFAW Russia. "We are
extremely pleased that the Russian government has taken the next logical
step by banning all trade in harp seal pelts from other countries as well."
The Russian market has long been hailed by the Canadian government as
the main market for Canadian seal products. With the European Union ban
on non-Inuit seal products still in place, and a long-promised seal meat
deal with China still unsigned, IFAW says the Canadian government and
sealing industry should acknowledge the reality that markets for
products are disappearing.
"The writing is on the wall" said Sheryl Fink, Director of IFAW's Seal
Program. "The Canadian government knows seal products are not wanted,
has had ample time to transition sealers out of this industry with
compensation. Instead they have done nothing but dispute the rights of
other nations by challenging seal product bans at the WTO. As Russia
follows in the steps of the EU and closes its doors to seal products,
it's time to say enough is enough and stop the seal slaughter once and
"Canada will continue to be shunned by the international community as
long as we persist with the outdated, inhumane, and unnecessary
of seal pups," continued Fink.
IFAW has been campaigning to end commercial seal hunting for more than
40 years, and our work helped bring about the end of the Russian seal
hunt in 2009. At the time, Russia's Minister of Natural Resources Yury
Trutnev said, "The bloody seal slaughter, the killing of the defenseless
animals, which can't be even called a 'hunt,' is now prohibited in
as it is in most developed countries. It is a serious step
conservation of biodiversity in Russia." Russian Prime
Putin also called seal hunting a "bloody industry" and
"should have been banned years ago."
Timeline of shrinking markets
-- 1972 US Congress passes Marine Mammal Protection Act, which bans the
importation of seal products.
-- 1983 IFAW helps win crucial ban in
Europe on importation of newborn
(whitecoat) harp seal and hooded seal (blueback)
-- 1987 Canadian Government bans commercial hunting of
bluebacks in Canadian waters.
-- 1990 With IFAW's
involvement, South Africa ends the hunt for Cape fur seals.
Mexico bans the import and export of marine mammals, including
-- 2007 IFAW campaigns result in Belgium and the Netherlands adopting
national bans on the import of seal products.
-- 2009 Russia bans the
killing of harp seal pups under 12 months of age.
-- 2009 European Union
bans the import of all seal products, with an
exemption for Inuit-derived
-- 2010 IFAW continues its fight to protect the EU ban, and
expose the cruelty of commercial hunts to governments around
-- 2011 Deal between Canada and China to allow export of seal
-- 2011 Belarus, Kazakhstan, and the Russian
Federation ban the import and
export fur skins of harp seals and their
IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) was established in 1969 and
its founding campaign was in opposition to Canada's commercial seal
IFAW has more than 40 years of experience raising awareness,
and opposing the cruel commercial hunts for seals in Canada
For more information on the campaign read IFAW's blog, visit our website
and follow us on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook or to take action to
protect seals visit IFAW's action centre.
Notes to editors:
The trade document listing the ban can be found here:
Sheryl Fink, Director, Seal Program
for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
+1 519 767 1948 x22
Mobile: +1 519 830 0046
SOURCE: International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)