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May 05, 2009

Magnifique! European Union Bans Seal Products

The grand purpose of The HSUS, as established by our founders, was to see that the United States had a powerful organization that could take on cruelty on a national scale and strike at the practice at its roots. As communications, transportation and the economy have gone global, it’s required that The HSUS increase its scale to meet modern day challenges. During the last 20 years we’ve made aggressive efforts to expand our scope to cover Canada, Europe, and other parts of the world. Today we saw a dramatic demonstration of our global capabilities as we struck perhaps the biggest blow against Canada’s barbaric seal hunt—the world’s largest slaughter of marine mammals.

When I took the post of president and CEO, I asked Rebecca Aldworth, our Canadian wildlife director, and our entire organization to mobilize to fight this hunt and to do so on multiple fronts—with a seafood boycott here in the United States, with an awareness campaign and documenting of the hunt in Canada, and with efforts around the world to close markets for seal skins.

This morning, the European Parliament took its final step to ban the import of seal pelts in the 27 nations of this geopolitical entity. I’ve asked Rebecca to give you some of her heartfelt thoughts about this achievement, which our members and our key backers made possible by supporting this campaign over the last five years and giving us the tools we required to trump the government of Canada.


I’m writing this from Strasbourg, France, where history has just been made for seals.

Today, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strong ban on trade in seal products, closing one of the largest markets for the global sealing industry. Because the European Union took this compassionate action, millions of seals will be spared a horrible fate.

Rebecca Aldworth with baby harp seal
© The HSUS/Glover
Rebecca Aldworth

As I watched the vote, images of so many suffering and dying seals in Canada flashed through my mind … the baby seals we could not save from this greedy industry, the pups we had to watch die an unbearable death. There is nothing we can do to change what happened, but from this point forward, we know so many baby seals will live in peace.

This is a phenomenal moment for our movement. Thousands of animal protection groups and hundreds of millions of people all over the world have been united for decades in the struggle to stop Canada’s cruel commercial seal slaughter. Today, the EU brought us a major step closer to that goal.

The Canadian government estimates the loss of the EU market will cost the Canadian sealing industry $6.6 million annually. Given last year the seal hunt brought in less than $7 million, the implications are enormous.

Now, with the sealing industry weakened, we have to fight harder than ever to achieve our ultimate goal: Canadian legislation that will end the commercial seal slaughter for good. Never has the ProtectSeals seafood boycott and our political work in Canada been more important. Never have we been closer to achieving a final end to the commercial seal slaughter.

But for today, we should all celebrate. United, we can achieve anything. The seals could not ask for better allies, and The HSUS could not ask for stronger supporters. On behalf of the countless seals who will be spared because of your efforts to achieve this ban, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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