Wednesday, May 6, 2009

EU Bans Seal Products: a blow to the Canadian seal hunt

Back in March, I commented on the efforts of The Humane Society to generate public and political interest to curb Canada's annual harvest of fur seals. The latest word from the Humane Society is an encouraging one. The European Union (EU) has initiated a ban on seal products in specific response to a public outcry regarding the Canadian hunt.

It has been estimated that this ban cuts out as much as $6.6 million CAD of Canada's annual take of $7 million CAD. The ban has also driven down prices for seal products and of the annual quota of 280,000 seals, so far only 60,000 have been taken. However, The Humane Society will continue its efforts as the government-subsidized industry is not yet ready to admit defeat. But the EU ban is certainly a major blow.

One of the things I found interesting in this entire campaign was the strategy taken that has proved the most successful - that of developing a general public interest and consensus and applying political and economic pressure; forces that the seal industry fears the most. Extreme activism did not necessarily move the ball forward; it was the relentless pressure placed upon the traditional decision-making forces: politics and dollars. Currently, 60's-style activism and protests don't seem to be as effective as they once were. Getting endorsements from opinion makers ranging from Paul McCartney to the European Parliament's Swedish member, Carl Schlyter, and bringing their influence to bear behind the scenes with international decision-makers may not be very dramatic or "sexy" . . . but it appears to be working.

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