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European Seal Import Bans Violate Human Rights

by NationTalk on April 14, 2007556 Views

OTTAWA and ST. JOHN’S, April 13 – Members of the Canadian pro-sealing delegation to Europe returned home shocked by the level of ignorance European politicians displayed on issues of human rights and wildlife conservation. “They are completely unaware of the grave impact their import bans would have on the livelihoods and cultures of hunters and fishers who depend on the hunt,” said Rob Cahill, Executive Director of the Fur Institute of Canada.

“EU lawmakers are on the verge of taking misinformation from animal rights extremists and turning it into laws that threaten the human rights of coastal people to use their natural resources,” Cahill said in a statement to EU politicians. “This is extremely serious. This act would be counter to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and World Conservation Union (IUCN) recommendations.” Mr. Cahill was referring to Article 8.j. of the Convention on Biodiversity (1992), which commits members to preserve the ability of indigenous and local communities to use their traditional knowledge for the conservation and use of local biological diversity. At their 2004 Congress, the IUCN also formally urged its members not to introduce legislation that bans the import or marketing of products from abundant seal populations.

Germany, The Netherlands, England and Belgium, which have all either passed laws against the import of Canadian seal products or are planning to pass such laws, are party to IUCN and CBD agreements. The Canadian delegation raised concerns about conservation and human rights with senior decision- makers in Brussels, London and Berlin. (Politicians in The Hague refused to even meet with the Canadian delegation.)

“When we asked how the proposed seal import bans are consistent with accepted IUCN policy, some EU politicians appeared unaware while others seemed indifferent about the fact that the IUCN has urged its member governments not to introduce any new import bans, said Trevor Taylor, Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development for Newfoundland & Labrador. “They were not concerned that countries within the EU engage in seal hunting and it was irrelevant that conservation and animal welfare measures exist for hunting species like boar, deer and muskrat, even within their own borders. They have turned a blind eye in their own countries, yet they continue to criticize Canada.”

Eugene Lapointe, the former Secretary General of CITES and president of IWMC World Conservation Trust, stated, “Sustainable use is a conservation principle that will be defended. Local communities must stand up and fight for their rights and traditions. The well-regulated hunting of seals is as fully justified as any other sustainable use of wildlife, a principle now supported by every serious conservation organization on the planet. Unfortunately, most European politicians and animal rights activists, being so remote from nature, have completely forgotten, ignored, or simply do not understand the full meaning of Sustainable Use for people and wild species alike.”

The Seals and Sealing Network under the Fur Institute of Canada, a national non-profit organization promoting sustainable and wise use principles, is committed to the conservation and respectful harvesting of the world’s seal species through sound scientific management and internationally accepted sustainable use practices. The Seals and Sealing Network is comprised of Government, Inuit, Veterinarians, Conservationists, Health care practitioners and Industry representatives. For more information, please go to www.fur.ca or www.sealsandsealing.net.

The Convention on Biological Diversity is one of the most broadly subscribed international environmental treaties in the world. Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, it currently has 190 Parties–189 States and the European Community–who have committed themselves to its three main goals: the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components and the equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. The Secretariat of the Convention is located in Montreal. Article 8 of the Convention on Biodiversity can be viewed on line at http://www.biodiv.org/convention/articles.shtml?a=cbd-08

For further information: Robert B. Cahill, Executive Director, Fur Institute of Canada, (613) 231-7099

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