8 SEPTEMBER 2015, BRUSSELS – The European Parliament has voted to strengthen the EU ban on trade in cruel commercial seal hunt products, finally seeing off years of legal challenges by Canada and Norway. The ban was introduced in 2009 following public outrage at the cruelty involved in seal hunts, including seals as young as three months old drowning with gunshot wounds, and being bludgeoned to death. But seal hunt nations Canada and Norway have attempted to overturn the ban ever since in a series of legal challenges that have been largely rejected by the courts.
MEPs voted today to delete the so-called ‘Marine Resources Management’ exception and to make minor modifications to the Indigenous Communities exception. The changes aim to bring the EU ban into full compliance with the World Trade Organisation which, in response to the latest legal challenge, upheld the EU’s right to ban the trade on public morality grounds, but determined that the exemptions to the ban violated WTO principles.
Fur Free Alliance member Humane Society International is one of the leading animal welfare organisations that campaigned to achieve the historic 2009 EU ban. Joanna Swabe, HSI/Europe’s executive director, said:
“MEPs have done the right thing today by standing up for animal welfare and EU public morality. Europe’s citizens have made it quite clear that we don’t want to buy fur and other products from hideously cruel seal slaughters, and we hope that now Canada and Norway will finally accept the will of consumers, and stop these repeated failed challenges. The EU ban has withstood every single legal test that has been thrown at it; the moral decision to close EU borders to these products of animal suffering has been repeatedly vindicated. Let this be an end to it now.”