Animal rights activists in Europe including those from France, Spain and Switzerland staged demonstrations Thursday against the annual Canadian seal hunt, which began earlier in the week.
Animal rights activists in Paris staged a demonstration Thursday against the annual Canadian seal hunt, which began earlier in the week.
Animal rights activists protest against Canada's seal hunt in front of the Canadian embassy in Madrid, Spain, March 26, 2009. The banner reads "Canada: the world is watching you. Stop the killing of seals". [Agencies]
About two dozen protesters distributed flyers and brandished Canada's maple leaf flags printed with the word "Shame."
The European Parliament considers a possible ban on Canadian seal products in the 27-nation organization.
Earlier this month, a committee of the European Parliament called the Canadian seal hunt - the world's largest marine mammal hunt - "inherently inhumane" and endorsed the bill, which could come up for a vote as early as next month. The hunt exported around US$5.5 million worth of seal products such as pelts, meat and oils to the EU in 2006.
Demonstrators in Paris were optimistic about the chances for a ban.
"We really think that this year will be different than years gone by," said Olivier Rafin, who heads the group that organized the protest, Fourrure Torture, or Fur Torture in English.
Despite their hopes, protesters said they were having difficulty getting the attention of people worried about the global financial crisis.
"It's not easy, that's clear," said demonstrator Christine Bezault, who was distributing flyers. "The crisis isn't helping with people's involvement in the plight of animals."
Canada's traditional spring hunt, which began on Monday, is important to the livelihood of seal hunters and aboriginal peoples. The hunters mostly sell seal pelts to the fashion industry in Norway and Russia, as well as selling blubber for oil.
Animal rights groups say the hunt is cruel, difficult to monitor, and ravages the seal population. They also contend the seals, some as young as 10 days old, are not always dead before they are skinned.
The United States has banned Canadian seal products since 1972.
(China Daily via Agencies March 28, 2009)