Russia's Ban on Harp Seal Skin Imports a Big Hit to Canadian Seal Hunt
All signs point to the end of the Canadian seal hunt. The European Union’s (EU) ban of seal product imports in 2009 was a big step, and Canada has unsuccessfully been trying to get the ban lifted since. With the demand for their seal pelts declining rapidly, Canada struck a deal with China this year to sell seal meat and oil, but the deal has so far been postponed. The movement to end the seal hunt continues to grow and attract big celebrity names including Ellen DeGeneres, Kesha, and Bill Maher.
Today, another big hit to Canada’s seal hunt hit the news. Russia has banned imports of harp seal products. According to a statement by Sheryl Fink, Seal Programme Director for International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the ban by the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and the Russian Federation is the biggest win in the campaign against the hunt since the EU ban. Russia ended their seal hunt in 2009 with Putin calling it a “bloody industry” that “should have been banned years ago.” Now, this ban is another big step as Russia imported approximately 90% of Canada’s seal exports.
Fink says that IFAW has played a big role in this progress. “IFAW’s campaign efforts have a history of successes in Russia, beginning with our efforts to end the slaughter of whitecoat seal pups by helicopter in the White Sea. Our teams observed and documented the Russian harp seal hunt in the White Sea in 1995 for the first time, and we were the first organization to campaign to end the Russian seal slaughter. Documentaries of the White Sea hunt were produced and widely shown on Russian television, along with photos and news articles. Thanks to IFAW, the Russian seal hunt could not remain hidden, and this cruel slaughter soon became public knowledge.”
Fink continued, “The Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russian trade ban is a significant victory that should be celebrated by all concerned with animal welfare and wildlife conservation…The time has come to acknowledge that the world does not want, nor need, cruel seal products. It is time to stop commercial seal hunting once and for all.” As the demand for seal products declines and the world’s awareness of the cruelty involved in the hunt grows, how much longer will Canada be clubbing and shooting seals?