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January 09, 2013

Taiwan Ends Trade in Marine Mammals

In the first major win for animals of 2013, Taiwan has banned trade in marine mammals and their products. This is a huge victory in the protection of marine mammals of all kinds, but especially for the baby seals who are the targets of the commercial seal slaughter in Canada.

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Rebecca Aldworth/HSI
Taiwan's ban on the trade in marine mammal products will
put a stop to the import of seal products into the country.

Most Canadians oppose commercial sealing, and so Canadian seal products are exported for sale in foreign markets because there’s little domestic market for them. But in response to the horrific images filmed each year at the seal slaughter by The HSUS’ Protect Seals team, many governments are taking action to stop seal product trade.

In 2009, the 27 countries of the European Union joined the United States and Mexico in prohibiting commercial trade in seal products. Then in 2011, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan banned imports of harp seal fur.

In response, the Canadian government vowed to develop alternate markets in Asia. But the move sparked a major backlash in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, with local residents refusing to buy these products of cruelty that the rest of the world has largely rejected.

Taiwan's ban on trade in marine mammals and their products is the first of its kind in Asia. The decision will save countless seals and other marine mammals from a horrible fate, and Taiwan has set an important example that we hope many nations will choose to follow.

For several years, The HSUS has promoted the concept of a sealing industry buyout. This simple plan would involve the Canadian government ending the seal slaughter, providing immediate compensation to sealers, and investing in economic alternatives. Polling shows half of Newfoundland sealers are already open to the idea.

With the global trade in seal products coming to an end, and sealers now willing to consider new options, it is time for the Canadian government to end its fiscally reckless and morally bankrupt devotion to the seal slaughter.

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