From: Andrea Cimino
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Urgent Action Needed:
Defend Belgium's and the Netherland's seal-friendly legislation
to the European Commission
I'm sending this on behalf of the Belgian animal protection organization GAIA. For an update on European legislation to ban the importation and sale of seal fur and other seal products from Canada and other nations still killing seals, visit www.hsicanada.ca/seals/seals-news/progress_to_end_seal_hunt_101707.html .
Defend Belgium's and the Netherland's seal-friendly legislation to the European Commission
Canada wants to get Belgium's and the Netherland?s ban on seal fur rescinded
On 25 January 2007, the Belgian Parliament approved a ban on the trade in fur and other products (such as oil) originating from seals. An historic moment, since Belgium became the first EU country to impose such a ban. It was hoped to have a snowball effect: the more countries followed Belgium's example, the more the markets for seal products would melt like snow in the sun.
This snowball effect has occurred: since September, the Netherlands no longer allow seal products into the country, and meanwhile, Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom have also publicly stated that the trade which originates from the seal hunt must be stopped. This is a powerful signal to Canada, which still allows the cruel seal hunt.
But Canada is fighting the Belgian and Dutch legislation, and has initiated a procedure in the World Trade Organization to get it rescinded. The European Commission must now examine the legislation to see whether it contravenes international trade regulations. Numerous recent surveys have shown that a majority of EU inhabitants are against the seal hunt. Nevertheless, it is very important that we make clear to the European Commission that the EU-citizens fully supports the ban.
Therefore, please write to Peter Mandelson, European Commission Trade Commissioner, to express your support for the ban imposed by Belgium and the Netherlands. Ask him, in your own words, to do whatever he can to ensure that the European Commission will strongly defend the existing Belgian and Dutch bans on seal products. Send the letter (in your own language is fine) before 10 November (no e-mails).
You can also point out to him that in September 2006, a majority of the European Parliament signed a written declaration asking the Commission to ban the import and export of seal products in the European Union as a whole.
Have you never picked up your pen to speak up for animals? This is the time to do it. There is much at stake for the seals. If the Belgian ban is overturned, the chances of an EU-wide ban will significantly recede. So we need your support very badly !
Mr Peter Mandelson
Commissioner for Trade
Then forward this e-mail to all the people in your address book. Together we can make a difference for the seals.
On behalf of the seals, thank you.
vzw GAIA asbl
T: 02 / 245 29 50
F: 02 / 215 09 43
Interested in taking action online to help animals? Then join our online community! Go to humanesociety.org/join
* . * . *
Mr Peter Mandelson, Commissioner for Trade
The Hague, November 3, 2007
Ref: Canadian protest against ban on seal products
Dear Mr Mandelson,
Action Against Poisoning fights animal poisoning in particular and supports animal protection efforts in general. We all know that animal abuse is often based on bad cultural or economic attitudes and habits. We have learned that it is hard to change cruel habits. In our view EU “respect” for such habits as expressed in Art III-121 of the draft Constitution undermines that much needed change.
We are informed that Canada has initiated a procedure in the WTO to get the ban on their seal products by European member states rescinded.
We are saddened by this Canadian initiative as it ignores a global dislike of animal cruelty and especially the seal culls. It also ignores the emerging recognition of and growing support for animal rights.
And the Canadian initiative reflects a very poor understanding of the heart of the matter. We do not so much ban “a trade”. Obviously the only way to ban cruelty is to ban a trade in the products of that cruelty.
We are proud of a firm European stand against seal culls as it expresses a clear ethical message that killing baby seals for their furs and seal bulls for their penises is totally unacceptable, regardless of the used killing methods.
Although we understand that economic profit is the leading motive in political decisions concerning animal welfare, we need to draw a line to preserve a shred of human dignity and credibility.
In a world guided by human profit, civilization has to start somewhere.
Why not in your office?
With kind regards,
Action Against Poisoning
* . * . *
Subject: Canada takes seal product bans to WTO
Date: November 6, 2007
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2007:
Canada takes seal product bans to WTO
Canadian trade minister will not oppose dog & cat fur imports to avoid precedent
GENEVA--Defying the court of world opinion, Canadian international trade minister David Emerson on September 26, 2007 appealed to the World Trade Organiza-tion to try to stop Belgium and the Netherlands from banning Atlantic Canadian seal products.
Emerson asked the WTO to hold "formal consultations" with the European Union on the Belgian and Dutch actions, "which is the first step in the organization's dispute settlement process," explained James Keller of Canadian Press.
Belgium banned seal product imports in January 2007, allowing an exemption for Inuits in the Far North who hunt seals by traditional methods. The Netherlands published a similar ban in July 2007, taking effect in September.
Both bans are symbolic, since neither nation has recently imported seal products, but Emerson "said Canada is worried the bans will encourage other countries that have expressed similar concerns, including Austria, Germany, and Italy, to follow with their own bans," wrote Keller.
Dutch agriculture minister Gerda Verburg responded that the Dutch law "fits within the rules established by the WTO."
European Union trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said in a written statement that he is "naturally disappointed by this move" on the part of the Canadian government. Mandelson "said the EU would defend its member states before the WTO, while continuing to study whether a EU-wide ban on seal products is justified," summarized Keller.
The European Parliament in Sept-ember 2006 passed a resolution favoring an EU ban on seal product imports. The German Parliament passed a supporting resolution in October 2006. British minister for trade, investment, and foreign affairs Ian McCartney in February 2007 pledged that Britain would actively lobby for an EU ban on seal product imports, after polls showed that a ban is favored by up to 73% of the British public.
The European Commission, however, has asserted that the 1983 EU restrictions on imports of fur from "whitecoat" seal pups "provides adequate response" to the concerns raised by the European Parliament.
How far the present Canadian government will go in defense of sealing and the fur trade was shown by Emerson's response after the European Commission in November 2006 adopted a proposal to ban the import, export, and sale of cat and dog fur throughout the European Union--as requested by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers.
Julia Waring of the Vancouver-based organization Fur-Bearer Defenders wrote to Emerson, who is the Member of Parliament representing her district, asking Canada to adopt a similar proposal.
"Adopting an import ban on dog and cat fur could undermine Canada's case against the implementation to import bans imposed on Canadian seal products," Emerson replied on March 7, 2007.
Emerson put the value of Canadian fur exports, including seal pelts, at $361 million in Canadian dollars as of 2005. The Atlantic Canada seal hunt generates $33 million (Canadian) in revenues, according to government figures, including $18 million in seal pelt exports, at cost of $20 million in subsidies as estimated by the Humane Society of Canada.
The seal hunt provides temporary jobs to about 6,000 residents of Newfoundland and remote parts of Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. The three "maritime provinces" are politically courted by all major Canadian parties, as the swing votes whose support usually decides the outcome of the perennial three-way Parliament-ary power struggle among the Liberals, whose political base is in Quebec, the Progressive Conserv-atives, strongest in Ontario, and the New Democrats, strongest in the "prairie provinces."
Emerson is a Liberal, presently the ruling party. The seal hunt was suspended from 1984 to 1995 during a rare epoch of Progressive Conservative strength in Quebec, beginning with the 1984-1993 tenure of Brian Mulroney of Bai Comeau as Prime Minister.
Wrote Fur-Bearer Defend-ers executive director Jennifer Allen to ANIMAL PEOPLE, "We are shocked at Emerson's seeming willingness to promote increased trade, whatever the cost, with seemingly no concern whatsoever for whether cruelty is involved, or for the ethical concerns of Canadians.
"While other countries are increasingly banning dog and cat fur," Allen added, "Canada has no laws preventing its import or sale, no laws to require labelling of fur, and no intent to do anything about it. New York State even just went one step further to tighten up labelling laws, as they are that convinced that dog and cat fur is being shipped to North America," Allen pointed out. "Where will that fur go now?"
But Emerson was buoyed in approaching the WTO when on September 25, 2007 the Committee for Environmental Cooperation created as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement dismissed a claim by the Mexican organizations Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambi-ental and Conservación de Mamíferos Marinos that Canada has failed to enforce the humane requirements of its national Marine Mammal Regulations. The claim was supported by the Humane Society International division of the Humane Society of the U.S.
Canadian governmental intransigence in defense of sealing is mirrored by the position of the government of Namibia, whose arguments for continuing the much smaller Namibian seal hunt often seem copied from Canadian positions. Both hunts are motivated in part by the demands of fishers who can no longer make a living in heavily overfished waters. Both the Canadian and Namibian governments argue that sealing is necessary to control growing seal populations, even as other evidence suggests that global warming is markedly reducing seal breeding habitat.
"Namibia is now in violation of every conservation principle of sustainable utilization imaginable," Seal Alert founder Francois Hugo wrote on August 15, 2007 to Namibian prime minister Nanhas Angula and fisheries minister Moses Maurihungirire.
Hugo cited the United Nations Food and Agricultural Org-anization Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the Namib-ian constitution, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature position on "sustainable utilization of seals," and the listing criteria used by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Hugo pointed out that Namibia allows sealers to kill more than two-thirds of the seals born at Cape Cross each year, more than twice the estimated "sustainable yield," which in turn was based on a population model that underestimated pup mortality before the start of the sealing season by about half.
In consequence, the 2006 sealing quota for Cape Cross, Hugo argued, was nearly twice the number of seal pups who were alive there. Comparing aerial photos taken on August 20, 2005 and August 10, 2007, Hugo concluded that, "The entire seal colony claimed to be largest in southern Africa is no more. Less than 30 days into the 139-day 2007 sealing season, Namibia's largest mainland seal colony is deserted, and for all intents and purposes extinct."
Editor, ANIMAL PEOPLE
P.O. Box 960
Clinton, WA 98236
[ANIMAL PEOPLE is the leading independent newspaper providing original investigative coverage of animal protection worldwide, founded in 1992. Our readership of 30,000-plus includes the decision-makers at more than 10,000 animal protection organizations. We have no alignment or affiliation with any other entity. $24/year; for free sample, send address.]