Canada and Greenland faced off against animal rights groups on Wednesday over accusations their annual seal hunts are cruel, as EU lawmakers considered proposals that could bar their seal products in the EU.
The European parliament’s vote on such legislation could take place as early as April, when the Canadian seal hunt gets under way.
The measure needs the approval of all 27 EU member states to become law.
The EU executive commission’s proposed ban targets countries that practice “cruel hunting methods.”
The law would only allow the import of seal products from countries that can guarantee their hunting practices are “consistent with high animal-welfare standards” and that the animals are killed without undue suffering. Special exemptions would also be allowed for Canada’s and Greenland’s Inuit communities.
Rebecca Aldworth, from the Canadian branch of the International Humane Society, showed lawmakers videos of bloodied seal pups being clubbed and skinned in Canadian waters, sometimes when they were still alive.
“You have before you a historic opportunity to save millions of animals from a fate you can’t imagine. Please stand up and do the right thing,” she told a hearing on the bill at the EU’s assembly.
Greenland Fisheries Minister Finn Karlsen, dressed in a traditional white Inuit sealskin jacket, insisted such a ban would “have severe and negative consequence for hunters and their families.”
“Our culture and our economy are at stake and it’s something I cannot accept,” he told lawmakers.
Canadian fisheries ministry representative Garry Stenson said the hunt “is humane, well regulated and sustainable” and that new rules for the hunt were under review to strengthen inspections, monitoring and enforcement of animal welfare rules.
Canada has said a ban could violate trade rules and it threatened action if a ban was introduced. It said a ban would decimate isolated east coast communities that are heavily dependent on the annual hunt.
Canada’s East Coast seal hunt is the largest of its kind in the world, with an average annual kill of about 300,000 harp seals.
British lawmaker Diana Wallis, who is drafting the EU assembly bill, suggested tough labeling rules were the only way to ensure sealing countries Canada, Greenland, Finland, Sweden and others adhere to EU animal welfare rules.
The EU proposal recommends a certificate and labels be provided by countries exporting seal products making clear seal products they trade meet strict EU conditions.
Several EU nations, such as the Netherlands and Belgium, already have their own bans on all seal products. The US has banned Canadian seal products since 1972.
Canada’s largest markets for seal products, such as Russia, China and Norway, are outside the EU. But sealing industry experts fear a ban would curb the demand for sealskins from the fashion industry and disrupt shipping routes.
WIDE REOPENING DISCOURAGED: A study from Peking University has suggested that lifting restrictions in the style of the US, UK and others would be catastrophic China would face a “colossal outbreak” on a scale beyond anything any other country has yet seen if it were to reopen in a similar manner to the US. That is a prediction based on statistical modeling by researchers at Beijing’s Peking University. A switch from China’s current COVID-19 elimination strategy to a US-style approach with few restrictions would lead to as many as 637,155 infections per day, according to the study, which was published by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday. That would be the largest daily figure reported by any country since the start of the
UNCERTAINTY: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not specify measures NATO might take, but many believe that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project could be canceled The US has said it has evidence that Russia has made plans for a “large scale” attack on Ukraine and said NATO allies are “prepared to impose severe costs” on Moscow if it attempts an invasion. Speaking at a NATO ministers meeting in Latvia, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that it was unclear whether Russian President Vladimir Putin had made a decision to invade, but added: “He’s putting in place the capacity to do so in short order, should he so decide.” “So despite uncertainty about intention and timing, we must prepare for all contingencies while working to see to
NOT ELIGIBLE: Most of those charged over democracy protests were born after the UK handed Hong Kong back to China, figures form Hong Kong Watch showed More than 90 percent of people who have faced protest charges in Hong Kong are too young to access a UK visa scheme dedicated to helping Hong Kongers flee to the UK, say advocates and lawmakers calling for new laws to assist them. The release of the figures on Sunday by advocacy group Hong Kong Watch comes before a British parliamentary debate this week on proposed migration law amendments that would widen the pathway for people with British National Overseas (BNO) status to resettle in the UK. More than 10,000 people were arrested during or after the mass protests that swept Hong
An episode of The Simpsons in which the cartoon family from the US visit Tiananmen Square has been removed from Disney’s streaming channel in Hong Kong at a time when authorities are clamping down on dissent. The missing episode adds to concerns that Chinese-style censorship is becoming the norm in the territory, ensnaring global streaming giants and other major tech companies. Disney+ has made rapid advances since it was launched 18 months ago, reaching more than 116 million worldwide subscribers. The Hong Kong version started streaming earlier this month and eagle-eyed customers soon noticed that an episode of The Simpsons featuring China was