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Commission urged to ban seal products immediately after new evidence of cruel practices

Animal welfare organisations from all over Europe, including IFAW, HSI and the ISPCA, are today calling on the European Commission to ban seal products immediately after fresh evidence emerged of cruel and wasteful practices in the ongoing seal hunt in Canada.

Pictures and footage shot this month refute Canada's claims that new rules have made the annual hunt more humane. The graphic evidence shows hunters ignoring the regulations, failing to kill seals quickly, and hooking and hoisting live seals into boats.

In addition many of the seals injured or killed are lost to the waves as hunters are unable to reach them in time.

For these reasons animal welfare organisations from all over Europe are today simultaneously holding press conferences in their own countries to ask the Commission to prohibit the sale and import of seal products.

Sheryl Fink, senior researcher at IFAW, visited the East Coast of Canada earlier this month to witness first hand how hunters clubbed seals to death. She said: "No-one who witnesses these seals being put to death and dragged across the ice could maintain the hunt has become more humane. Our footage shows the hunt is as cruel as it has always been, and it has no place in a modern country such as Canada."

Mark Beazley, ISPCA Chief Executive said: "People in Ireland have no desire to support this cruel hunt by allowing these products into the European Union. We ask that politicians here do all they can to lobby the Commission for a ban. This biggest killing of marine mammals in the world has been going on for years. Enough is enough."

The ISPCA is part of Eurogroup for Animals, a European-wide coalition of animal welfare organisations, who are today all demanding an immediate ban on seal products following the release of the new evidence.

The ban on seal products is also widely supported by the European Parliament. In 2006, a record number of 425 parliamentarians signed a Written Declaration urging the Commission to ban the trade in all seal products. The seal hunt was also condemned by the Parliamentary Intergroup for the Welfare and Conservation of Animals.

Animal welfare organisations and MEPs are not calling for an end to traditional Inuit seal hunting (in accordance with humane animal welfare standards). Canadian Inuit hunting of harp seals in the Canadian Arctic accounts for about 1%. The ban only addresses the large scale commercial seal hunting.

Stavros Dimas, the EU's Environment Commissioner, is expected to announce his decision on a possible ban in the coming weeks.

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