Tue, Feb 01, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Animal rights group calls on ETMall to stop selling seal oil

SEAL-kILLING:A Forestry Bureau official said the government needed to gather more information before deciding whether to prohibit such imports

Staff writer, with CNA

An animal rights group yesterday appealed to local TV home shopping system ETMall for a second time to stop selling seal oil imported from Canada to help stop the annual slaughter of the marine mammal.

The non-profit Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) renewed its call for ETMall not to promote Canadian seal oil after the channel agreed to stop selling the product for a period last year.

EAST director Chen Yu-min (陳玉敏) said her organization had recently received calls from viewers saying ETMall had resumed selling seal oil on TV and had even pointed out that the culling of seals for oil is legal in Canada.

Chen said it was not a matter of whether the practice is legal or not, but rather a serious environmental issue that needs the support of the public.

FOOD AND HABITAT

“A quasi-little ice age,” with the Arctic icecap increasingly melting and drifting, means that not only are seal habitats disappearing, food supplies for polar bears, which mainly feed on seals, are dwindling, Chen said.

“Increasing sales of seal oil and related products are tantamount to stopping a sustainable development of the environment,” she said.

EAST has since April last year been promoting a campaign calling for the boycott of seal products by screening a film shot by the Humane Society International that is designed to shock, showing a Canadian hunter bludgeoning a seal pup with a cudgel, before throwing the dying animal onto a boat.

The drive succeeded in getting the products off the shelves of retail chains such as Cosmed, Watsons, Pxmart and Wellcome. ETMall and online retailer Momo Shop had also said they would no longer sell seal oil and related products, Chen said.

PUBLIC SUPPORT

Meanwhile, Lin Kuo-chang (林國彰), an official at the Council of Agriculture’s Forestry Bureau, said that while the US and the EU have banned imports of seal oil, Taiwan needs to collect more information before considering such a ban.

Lin said if public opinion, through signed petitions or other medium, shows that such a ban is supported, the government would have a stronger case for initiating talks with Canada on banning seal products.

However, he said ETMall’s continued sale of Canadian seal oil products could pose a hindrance to Taiwan’s plan to ban such items.

EAST said Taiwan is the fourth-largest market for Canadian seal products. From 2003 to 2009, it imported 431,364kg of seal oil, an amount that required the killing of 120,000 seals.

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