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Russian ban ‘spells the end of Canadian sealing,’ activists say

December 19, 2011

Image | CTV News

Related: please click and sign under Act: Help End The Annual Seal Slaughter

From The Globe and Mail
By Gloria Galloway

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.

That follows a similar ban imposed by the European Union, which is being challenged by the Canadian government.

Sheryl Fink, the director of the seal program for the International Fund for Animal Welfare said Monday the ban took her organization by surprise. It was discovered, she said, when members of her group were poring over WTO documents online and noted an entry under Belarus.

“If Russia is 90 per cent of the market, that’s a huge chunk gone, and it’s not a great market to start with,” Ms. Fink said. “So the question is, is Canada going to admit that people don’t want seal products, or are we going to keep fighting this one?”

Rebecca Aldworth, the executive director of the Humane Society International/Canada, said the move demonstrates the global momentum to close the international market for seal products.

“It clearly spells the end of Canadian sealing as so many other trade bans have done over recent years,” Ms. Aldworth said. Her organization, she added, is calling on the federal government offer a one-time buy-out the commercial sealing industry in Canada.

It is impossible to tell exactly what percentage of Canadian seal pelts go to Russia. But the representative of two seal processing plants in Newfoundland was quoted in The Globe and Mail in 2006 as saying 90 per cent of Canadian pelts go to Russia and China and that Russia is the No. 1 customer.

Alan Herscovici, the executive vice-president of the Fur Council of Canada, said his organization was trying to check the veracity of the Russian ban on Monday morning. There have been “false alarms” before, he noted.

“I know that Russia is one the markets that seal skins do sell in. They like seal skins, always have,” he said.

There has been much confusion in the last few years, and markets have been weak because of bans like those in the European Union, Mr. Herscovici added.

But there is no scientific justification for a ban on the seal industry, he argued. “What’s really at stake here is the question is the principle of the sustainable use of wildlife.”

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some major
customers gone
sealing is something
frown upon

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

2 Comments leave one →
  1. karen lyons kalmenson permalink
    December 19, 2011 6:50 pm

    some major
    customers gone
    sealing is something
    frown upon


  2. linda badham permalink
    December 20, 2011 11:15 am



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