FriendsForSealsOrg

Court upholds EU ban on importing products from seal hunts, except from Inuit communities

A court says the European Union’s ban on importing products from seal hunts can stand, despite a challenge by manufacturers and traders.

EU law authorizes the marketing of seal products resulting only from hunts traditionally conducted by Inuit communities for subsistence.

The General Court of the European Union ruled Thursday that, as different member countries were enacting their own regulations, EU-wide action was needed to preserve the single market.

Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada, said animal rights activists are “thrilled that the European General Court has rejected this shameful attempt by the commercial sealing industry to overturn the EU ban on seal product trade.”

The ruling can be appealed to a higher court.

FoxNews.com
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/04/25/court-upholds-eu-ban-on-importing-products-from-seal-hunts-except-from-inuit/#ixzz2RjApl0VX

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Though No market, Canada going ahead with the seal hunt because "it’s tradition" and "it’s in our blood"

Canada’s annual harp seal hunt in Newfoundland began today, but the ports looked deserted compared to the usual bustling activity, Reuters reported. With the worst ice conditions in the gulf in 40 years and a dwindling market for sea pelts, many sealers don’t feel it’s worth it to take part this year.

After an EU ban on seal imports, the asking price for seal pelts has dropped dramatically– while the asking price used to be about $100, it now hovers around $14-15, Reuters reported.

All this, however, isn’t necessarily good news for the seals. Despite the ban, Canada is still going ahead with the hunt, and while there’s less turnout, there are still diehard sealers who are partaking because it’s a part of their tradition.

“It’s in our blood,” sealer Frank Brown told Reuters.

Furthermore, while there are less sealers, there are less seals as well– seal populations are dropping because of warming temperatures and melting ice. Ice provides a habitat for the seals, and when they give birth, for example, they do so on the ice. According to the New York Times, many seal pups drown at birth after slipping off the patches of ice they were born on, or are crushed by moving ice.

Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/08/canadian-seal-hunt-begins_n_530363.html

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Seal processing plant receives another provincial loan

A seal processing plant in Newfoundland will get a $3.6-million loan from the provincial government this year.

Fisheries Minister Derrick Dalley says the money for Carino Processing Ltd. will allow the Dildo facility to buy seal pelts and blubber from this year’s hunt.

The government offered a loan of the same amount last year to Carino Processing, but the company only borrowed $2 million.

The government says that’s because poor ice conditions hampered the hunt last year, adding that the loan has since been repaid.

Dalley reiterated the government’s position that seal hunt is humane and sustainable, a statement that animal welfare groups strongly contest.

Humane Society International swiftly condemned the loan as a wasteful subsidy intended to prop up a dying business.

“Instead of providing financing to a doomed industry, our governments, both provincial and federal, should be pursuing a one-time buyout of the commercial sealing industry,” Rebecca Aldworth, a spokeswoman for the group, said in a news release Wednesday. “That plan would put more money into the pockets of Canadian fishermen than the seal hunt ever could, and it would be a just and graceful way to remove the international stigma of being one of the last nations in the world to support commercial sealing.”

But Dalley said the seal hunt is crucial to the long-term stability of fish stocks.

“Coupled with the fact that opportunities for the seal products undoubtedly exist, our government is pleased to once again provide financial assistance supporting the long-term viability of this industry,” he said in a statement.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has yet to set this year’s total allowable catch.

Daily Business Buzz
http://www.nl.dailybusinessbuzz.ca/Provincial-News/2013-03-28/article-3209414/NL%3A-Seal-processing-plant-receives-another-provincial-loan/1

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FriendsForSeals.org applauds Taiwan’s decision to ban import and export or sale of seal and other marine mammal products. As with the EU, Taiwan still allows trading by foreign aboriginal people

The China Post reported the ban on its website. It was passed by Taiwan’s legislative yuan as changes to its Wildlife Conservation Act covers marine mammals like seals, sea lions, sea otters, manatees and sea elephants, which are also known as elephant seals.

Taiwan had become the third-largest Asian consumer and the fourth in the world in terms of the consumption of marine mammals and their products, the newspaper reported.

Cape Breton sealer Robert Courtney saw the ban as more bad news for the industry, but it was hailed by the Humane Society International/Canada’s executive director Rebecca Aldworth.

“It is going to create more problems,” Courtney said.

“Hopefully it can pick up somewhere else and get through it.”

Courtney said seal products from Cape Breton hunters went to buyers in Newfoundland and some likely ended up in Taiwan.

He described the seal hunt as one of the most humane harvests of any animal in the country.

Aldworth said in a release the compassionate actions of the Taiwanese legislature will save countless seals and other marine mammals from “a horrible fate.”

Click here to read the full Cape Breton Post article.

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Potential Canada-EU trade deal raises alarms for Atlantic fishery

It’s a predictable response, replete with arrogance, ignorance, rationalization and insensitivity.

“At stake is the ability of Canadians to pursue public policies that curb domination of the fisheries by large corporations,” says the study released Wednesday by the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“My biggest concern is that Canadian governments and citizens, particularly provincial governments, will lose their ability to regulate the fishery to maximize local benefits,” author Scott Sinclair said in an interview.

His study, “Globalization, Trade Treaties and the Future of the Atlantic Canadian Fisheries,” includes details reportedly leaked from ongoing closed-door Canada-EU trade talks.

They indicate that “the EU is strongly pressuring Canada to abolish minimum processing requirements” as the two sides work toward a deal known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, says the report.

It’s a contentious issue that recently played out in St. John’s, N.L., as the provincial government wrangled for months with Ocean Choice International. At issue was the company’s push for exemptions to minimum processing requirements meant to safeguard local jobs and share benefits of a publicly owned resource.

The company wanted to ship most of its groundfish catch straight to overseas buyers, saying markets increasingly want less processed product.

In December, the government and Ocean Choice International reached a deal that allows the company to ship up to 75 per cent of its yellowtail flounder quota out of the province unprocessed. The rest will be handled at a plant in Fortune, N.L., that will provide 110 full-time jobs for five years.

Scrapping minimum processing requirements would strip provinces of leverage in future disputes, Sinclair said.

Click here to read the full Cape Breton Post article.

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Culling seal to save cods is nonsense

Toronto Sun - Culling seal to save cods is nonsense

It’s a predictable response, replete with arrogance, ignorance, rationalization and insensitivity.

Consider: Because the Atlantic cod has declined drastically in numbers and can no longer sustain a once-flourishing fishing industry, a Senate committee wants to cull some 70,000 grey seals “to preserve remaining fish stocks.”

This last quote from P.E.I. Sen. Elizabeth Hubley at Fisheries and Oceans committee hearings.

Isn’t that a typically human response — blame seals for the demise of the cod and other food fish in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Grand Banks and North Atlantic?

From the days of the Vikings, a thousand years ago, the cod was the fish that was the staple of Europe. It was so abundant that the supply seemed inexhaustible — like the bison once seemed on the Prairies of North America.

Yet cod fishing in Newfoundland collapsed, and in 1992, Fisheries imposed an indefinite moratorium on cod fishing.

In 2000, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) declared the cod to be an endangered species, whose numbers had dropped by 70% in 30 years. Unless something was done, the cod would be extinct in 15 years.

So what is to be done? The Senate proposal blames seals — both harp seals and grey seals. This is nonsense. In past centuries, there were infinitely more seals in the fishing areas, yet the fish were in seemingly limitless supply.

We all acknowledge that overfishing has caused the demise of cod numbers (and haddock and flounder and hake), but we still prefer to blame seals. Perhaps this is because there is a small profit in killing seals for their pelts — and pretending we are doing it to save the fish!

Click here to read the full Toronto Sun article.

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China activists tell Canada… “Stop the Seal Hunt or Face Seafood Boycott in China”

DALIAN, CHINA–(Marketwire – Nov 8, 2012) – On November 6, 2012, the opening day of the 17th China Fisheries and Seafood Expo in Dalian, Northeast China, a large Canadian fisheries delegation met with a strong protest from Chinese activists. More than 30 Chinese activists converged in Dalian from different cities across China, and presented to the Canadian exhibitors an open letter asking the Canadian fishing industry and government to stop viewing China as a dumping ground for the cruel seal products. A huge banner reading, “Canada, Stop Seal Hunt or Face Seafood Boycott in China” caught the attention of hundreds of exhibitors and visitors in the crowded international section of the Expo.

“The Canadian government is making a colossal mistake in promoting seal products in China,” said Dan Zhang, a Beijing based activist, upon learning of the protest in Dalian. “China will never become a dumping ground for products of cruelty that have been rejected by Canadians and the world community alike. Given commercial fishermen are killing the seals in Canada, it is not surprising that the backlash against seal product trade in China is now spreading to Canadian seafood. Chinese activists are determined to launch a nationwide boycott of Canadian seafood products unless Canada stops marketing seal products in our country.”

The China Fisheries and Seafood Expo is the largest international exhibition event in China. It attracts hundreds of fisheries traders from Asia, Europe and North America. Foreign exhibitors represent some 50% of the attendees. Canada sent a sizable delegation led by the Canadian Agriculture and Fisheries Ministries. Seal meat and seal organs were listed on the product info sheets of some Canadian exhibitors.

According to the Chinese sources, Canada is China”s 5th largest seafood supplier. In 2011, China imported over $352 million worth of Canadian seafood, far outstripping the value of the seal trade between the two countries. “It is terribly unwise for Canada to risk a disruption of the normal trade between the two countries by imposing seal products, which are derived through terrible cruelty to animals, on the Chinese market,” said Qin Xiaona, director of Beijing”s Animal Welfare Association.

Protesters did not just focus on the Canadian exhibitors. They approached most other foreign exhibitors as well. “We want businesses from other countries to know that the Chinese people are not irresponsible consumers,” remarked an activist from Shandong. As a country with spotted seals, a Chinese indigenous and endangered species, the Chinese protesters also feared that Canadian seal trade with China could encourage illegal hunting of the Chinese seals. To Tian Jiguang, director of the Chinese Society for the Protection of the Spotted Seals, Canada has a moral responsibility to be sensitive and not to promote seal trade.

Click here (http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/Photos_of_protesters.pdf) to view photos of Chinese activists protesting the Canadian fisheries delegation at the China Fisheries and Seafood Expo in Dalian, Northeast China. (Credit:JGT 2012)

Click here to read the Yahoo! News article.

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Plan to cull 70,000 grey seals gets Senate panel’s approval

The Senate’s fisheries committee has endorsed a contentious cull of 70,000 grey seals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence over a four-year period, in a bid to conserve cod stocks.

The Senate’s standing committee on fisheries and oceans began hearings last year to respond to a Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat call for an experimental — and unprecedented — cull of grey seals.

On Tuesday the committee released a report that acknowledged “the ecological risks raised by some witnesses” but nevertheless supports “the logic of the proposed experimental reduction of grey seals in this area.”

There were an estimated 104,000 of the animals living in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence as of 2010, the Senate committee said in a news release.

The report also recommends setting up a bounty system to compensate hunters, but it didn’t say how much the bounty should be. There is no market for grey seal pelts.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) blames the seals for preventing cod stocks from recovering in the Gulf.

Acting fisheries minister Gail Shea is under pressure from the fishing industry to do something about the stalled cod recovery in the Gulf, where there’s indirect scientific evidence suggesting hungry grey seals are to blame.

But critics say that plans for a cull have been driven by politics, not science.

A group of marine biologists at Dalhousie University in Halifax issued an open letter last fall that said a cull could produce unintended consequences, including further depletion of the cod.

The letter said the proposal couldn’t be justified by existing scientific evidence and was biased because it focused only on the negative impact of grey seals.

Jeff Hutchings, a biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said that a cull of grey seals could not be expected to save cod.

“It’s not a two-species ecosystem. It’s a multi-species ecosystem,” said Hutchings, who appeared before the Senate fisheries committee.

EU ban reduces seal market

Hutchings said the available science does not support a cull.

“One cannot credibly predict from a science perspective whether a cull of grey seals would have a positive impact on cod or negative impact on cod … or no impact whatsoever,” he said.

Grey seals represent only a small percentage of the annual seal hunt in Eastern Canada, with harp seals by far dominating the traditional market.

However, that market has collapsed in re
cent years, in the wake of a European Union ban against Canadian seal products.

The Senate committee isn’t the first group of legislators to recommend a cull of grey seals. In May 2007, an all-party Commons committee recommended that Sable Island be opened up to a grey seal hunt, but that recommendation was ignored.

Although the Fisheries Department says seal hunters can kill up to 60,000 grey seals annually, only a few hundred have been killed since 2009.

Frank Pinhorn, executive director of the Canadian Sealers Association, said trying to turn a grey seal cull into a commercial venture could be a hard sell.

“The price would have to go up, because it would have to be worthwhile for sealers to go and harvest these animals in order to make it worthwhile for them to do so,” he said.

Click here for full story

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WTO Challenge on European Union Ban on Trade in Seal Products

Though most tax payers want seal hunt to end, they must pick up the tab for the continued fight of of EU’s ban of cruel seal products.

WTO Challenge on European Union Ban on Trade in Seal Products

OTTAWA, ONTARIO — (Marketwire) — 09/24/12 — The Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council and the Honourable Peter Penashue, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and member of Parliament for Labrador, today released the following statement:

“Today, Canada, along with Norway, asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to appoint the panellists to hear the challenge to the EU’s ban on seal products.

“Canada and Norway are ready with their legal case and look forward to moving ahead with the WTO dispute settlement process.

“It is Canada’s view that the EU’s ban on imports of Canadian seal products violates the EU’s WTO obligations.

“The Atlantic and northern seal harvests are humane, sustainable and well-regulated activities that provide an important source of food and income for coastal and Inuit communities.

“The Government of Canada is firmly committed to defending our sealing industry and the coastal and northern communities that depend on the seal harvest.”

Click here for full story

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Tax payers on hook for $2.5 million, and losing money each year, but Darin King calls seal hunt a success.

It may have only been a fraction of the size of the seal hunt a decade ago, but compared to the last couple of years, Fisheries Minister Darin King is calling the 2012 seal hunt an unqualified success.

In total, hunters took close to 70,000 animals this year nearly double what was taken in 2011.

“It’s all positive from our perspective,” King said. “I fail to find how you can call it a failure when we’ve grown it so much in such a short time and we see markets open up.”

This year’s seal hunt got off the ground in large part because the government offered up a $3.6 million loan to Carino, a seal pelt processor, in order to allow the company to buy pelts.

The money was to be used to buy up to 100,000 pelts; since only part of that was taken, the government is on the hook for around $2.5 million.

King said the money hasn’t been paid out to Carino yet, and he expects it will still be repaid “by Christmas” as he originally stated when he announced the loan earlier this spring.

“We have every confidence that there won’t be an issue with the repayment,” he said.

At the same time, he made it clear the money was for one-year only, and as far as he’s concerned, it won’t happen again.

“I can say with certainty that when cabinet made the decision, we made the decision in the context of this as a one-shot deal,” King said. “Hopefully once we get through this year, by next year this time, the markets will have opened up.”

Sheryl Fink, director of the seal program for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), dismissed King’s optimism.

“We’re still seeing a hunt that is much reduced from what it had been in previous years, 25 times smaller than what it was in 2006,” Fink said. “I don’t think this is an industry that’s going to come back, and we need to help transition people away, make sure they’re properly and appropriately compensated for any loss of income.”

In recent years, the IFAW and some other animal welfare groups have pressed the government to bail out seal harvesters to end the hunt.

But politicians of all stripes said they believe things are turning around for the beleaguered hunt.

New Democrat MHA Christopher Mitchelmore said he believes more needs to be done to market seal products to people in the province, but he applauded the government for offering the loan to Carino.

“In terms of looking at it from last year, it is more successful than previous years,” he said. “We’re moving in the right direction. I do think the minister cares about the seal hunt and I think we’re going to see some good things in the future.”

Liberal fisheries critic Jim Bennett said as far as he’s concerned, the primary focus should be on the size of the herd and ultimately used to control the seal population.

“The herd is way overpopulated and the first thing we need to do is decide on the size of the hunt,” he said. “What is sustainable and what is appropriate? And that needs to be done in conjunction with the scientists.”

Click here for story

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