The European Parliament has banned the import of all products derived from seal hunting.
The vote also puts an end to the export from and transit through the 27-nation bloc of seal fur skins, meat, oil and blubber. Canada and Norway, countries with significant seal-hunting industries, have said they will lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organisation. The measure was first proposed three years ago by NGOs concerned over what they see as cruel hunting practices. The European Commission claims public opinion also supports a ban. A delegation of Canadian Inuits was in Strasbourg to protest against the legislation. Inuit and other aboriginal communities are exempt from the ban on the grounds that they practice traditional subsistence hunting. However they argue the wider scope of the embargo will devastate their local economies. They also say seal culls are necessary to protect fish stocks.