Canada's seal hunt suffers a blow after European Union votes to ban products
With all EU governments expected to endorse the ban, the ordinance will likely go into effect in 2010.
"The European Union has made history by ending its trade in seal products," Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International Canada said in a release. "This ban spells the beginning of the end of Canada's globally condemned seal slaughter."
Canadian officials will likely challenge and request exemption from the ban on the grounds that it could devastate some small communities that depend on the hunt for annual income.
The EU has been a key market for the Canadian sealing industry, accounting for about one-third of sealskin exports.
While this vote will not officially stop the hunt underway in eastern Canada, it is another strong indication of growing worldwide opposition to the annual slaughter of young harp, gray and hooded seals.
Sealers are also facing little to no market for the marine mammals' pelts, with prices drastically lower than in recent years.
In response, many sealers have decided to not participate in the hunt this year. According to a Canadian Press article, fewer than 60,000 seals have been killed thus far, though the government quota was set at 280,000.
Photo: Harp seal in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the opening days of 2009 Canadian commercial seal hunt. Credit: Stewart Cook / International Fund for Animal Welfare