Nfld. & Labrador

Chinese groups want export of seal products stopped

According to Humane Society International, more than 50 Chinese rights groups have sent an open letter to the Canadian Senate asking it to stop exports of seal products to China.
Hunters gather pelts as the annual East Coast seal hunt starts in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence around Quebec's Iles de la Madeleine on March 23, 2009. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press) ((Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press))

According to Humane Society International, more than 50 Chinese environmental and animal rights groups have sent an open letter to the Canadian Senate asking it to stop exports of seal products to China.

The letter, which slams seal products as the result of animal cruelty, could be setting the stage for Chinese leaders to ban seal imports as well.

China is the only major market left for Canadian seal exports.

The United States, Europe and Russia all have banned the trade of seal products, following intense lobbying by animal welfare organizations.

"We are writing to the Senate because we are disappointed in the Canadian government," Qin Xiaona, director of Beijing’s Capital Animal Welfare Association, said in a statement released by Human Society International/Canada.

"We want Canadian Senators to realize that Ottawa's promotion of seal products in China is unwise and short-sighted. It has caused irreparable damage to Canada’s reputation in China," the release said. 

"Our campaign against seal product trade will continue until the Canadian government ceases its efforts to promote these products of cruelty in China."

The letter comes just weeks before the Senate decides whether to continue debating a proposed bill to stop the seal hunt by Liberal Senator Mac Harb, who argues that the hunt is no longer economically viable.

But the Senate bill is unlikely to go anywhere because both the Liberals and the Conservatives support the hunt.

Sealers' perspective

Frank Pinhorn of the Canadian Sealers Association said all these politics ignore the basic fact that seal populations are exploding and decimating fish stocks.

"If we leave them [seals] alone, we'll have seals on our lawns in five to six years," Pinhorn said.

"They'll be up in the river, up the ponds, the bays. The shrimp and the crab fisheries and all the other fish species will be decimated."