Thursday, October 12, 2006


Fur institue of Canada press release

October 11, 2006

Dear Friends,

Fur Institute of Canada’s Sealing Committee

For almost twenty-five years, the Fur Institute of Canada has played an effective role as a ‘round table’ for addressing wildlife conservation and animal welfare issues. Consistent with our commitment to improved understanding and appreciation of the role played by rural and Aboriginal people in wildlife conservation, the Board of Directors has recently created a new Committee to provide leadership on the sealing issue.

The interest in having such a body emerged from an all-day "think tank" hosted by the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami in their Ottawa office in January 2005 and attended by representatives of Aboriginal people, the scientific community, east coast sealers, industry, conservation groups, the health community, and federal, provincial and territorial governments.

The Sealing Committee will act as a network for seal-related issues and work with all stakeholders from government and the private sector to provide balanced stories on Conservation/Marine Management, Animal Welfare, Socio-Economics and Human Health.

Campaigns which show graphic photos or make emotional statements may raise millions of dollars for the benefit of anti-animal use groups, but they do nothing for the conservation or welfare of the wildlife. In fact, these self-described ‘environmentalists’ care little for the environment or for the effect their campaigns will have on the true environmentalists, those people who support themselves through the conservation and sustainable use of the renewable resources of the land and sea.

Currently, the governments of the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy and the European Union are considering new import bans on seal products. While they are, no doubt, well intentioned and believe they are promoting conservation and respectful use of wildlife, these governments have been grossly misinformed.

As Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), all of these countries are committed to the implementation of the CBD’s three main principles: conservation, sustainable use, and sharing the benefits derived from, renewable resources. The imposition of trade barriers on products coming from abundant seal populations will be contrary not only to this commitment, but also to the sustainable use philosophy of the IUCN, the World Conservation Union.

We are puzzled too by what appears to be a policy disconnect – some would call it a double-standard – whereby ‘proper conservation’ for abundant wild species within the European Union, such as deer or muskrat, seems to require one set of values, while ‘proper conservation’ for largely non-EU species, such as seals, appears to require another set of values.

The Fur Institute of Canada’s Sealing Committee will endeavour to create a better understanding of real conservation values through promotion of messages such as those outlined on the attached page. We are in the process of building a website, (, to provide a venue where the network of people who believe in seal conservation can share real stories from real people with legislators, the media and the general public.

From the many comments we have received since the Sealing Committee’s inception, the feeling is that this is long overdue. If you would like to be added to our mailing list for sealing related information, or to contribute in any way, please contact Fur Institute of Canada Executive Director Rob Cahill at (613) 231-7099, or e-mail at


Bruce Williams

Fact Sheet on Seals and Sealing

• In many countries, including Canada, Greenland, Namibia, Norway, Russia, South Africa and Uruguay, sealing provides essential food supplies and a rare opportunity to earn cash income for Aboriginal and coastal communities.

• Harp seals are the most populous species of seals in the Northern Hemisphere. They are found in the waters of, and are harvested by, a number of countries. From 2000 to 2004, Canada took, on average, 68% of the Harp seals landed; Greenland took 21%, Russia 9% and Norway 2%.

• IUCN, the World Conservation Union, the world’s largest and most respected conservation organization, passed a resolution at its 2004 Congress urging its member governments NOT to impose any new trade restrictions on seal products coming from abundant populations.

• In the early 1980’s, the North Atlantic Harp seal population was estimated to be 1.8 million (in Canadian and Greenlandic waters). In 2006, the population (in Canadian and Greenlandic waters) is estimated to be almost 6 million. These numbers do not include the populations of Harp seals found in Northern European waters.

• According to the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the landed value of Harp seal pelts from the 2006 season, for both Quebec and Newfoundland-Labrador fisherman totalled $29.2 million, compared to $17.5 in 2005. These figures do not include landed values for other products (e.g., meat) nor data from Northern/Inuit communities, whose harvest is principally Ringed seal. Just because a market exists for a wildlife product does not mean that a hunt is unsustainable. For example, in Germany alone, hunting annually produces about €140 million worth of wild venison for human consumption (FACE “Hunting in Europe”, Germany section).

• Inuit and Greenlandic communities were hardest hit by the 1983 seal import ban imposed by the European Economic Community and the resulting global collapse in seal prices. Losing one of their few economic options, these communities suffered economic, social and political disintegration.

• Representatives of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association observed the Canadian Harp seal hunt in 2002 and concluded that, of the animals studied, 98% were killed in an acceptably humane manner, which compared very favourably to the animal welfare standard required in abattoirs in North America and the European Union.

• Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal coastal communities share the same values in their approach to sealing: sustainable use, respectful killing techniques and full utilization.

• Sealing, an excellent example of a renewable resource industry, produces a range of natural products: pelts for clothing, meat for both human and animal consumption, and seal oil, rich in Omega-3 fatty acid and used in recent years in capsules, as a supplement which reduces blood pressure and risk of heart disease.

Very well investigated and informed stance. With some very very scathing but truisms.
w2fErv The best blog you have!
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