The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly today to ban seal product imports. Our long struggle to achieve this goal is over and it has ended in a great victory for civilized morality and ecological responsibility over barbaric greed, cruelty, and waste.

The Canadian government has already threatened to challenge the legislation, expected to take effect in the first half of 2010, at the World Trade Organization. They will fail, and if they have any sense of responsibility to the majority of Canadians who do not support sealing they will desist from trying to threaten a 25 billion dollar trade agreement with the European Union.

The results of the vote in Strasbourg were overwhelming: 550 votes for the ban and only a mere 49 against it. The European Bill to ban seal products passed with 92% support from the European parliamentarians.

"Hopefully this will give the government of Canada the message that they need to join the 21st Century," said Captain Paul Watson. "This kind of barbarity has absolutely no place in our world today."

This is the single greatest blow ever struck against the sealing industry and it will bring the industry to its knees.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society however will continue efforts to mop-up the remaining markets. Russia is our next target and with the abolishment of the Russian seal hunt and the declaration by Vladimir Putin that it is a "bloody cruel industry", we should be able to convince Russia to ban seal products also. This leaves only China and Japan and both those nations follow European fashion trends. With seal fur out of fashion in Europe it will be out of fashion in Asia soon also. This will leave only the market for baby seal penis tea that Canada has been trying to sell to China as some snake-oil remedy for impotence.

The Canadian government may attempt to prop up the sealing industry with millions of taxpayer dollars, but it makes little economic sense to continue such foolishness. Even the stubborn arrogance of politicians has a limit to what the public will tolerate from them.

Canadian politicians keep parroting the nonsense that sealing is an important and viable industry although at its height it has never brought in more than $20 million dollars. This year the government states that the slaughter will be worth $13 million dollars. It is a mystery as to how they arrived at that figure.

What did the sealing industry bring into the economy this year?

Let's do the math.

This year they took 59,500 seal pelts from a quota of 280,000. The pelts are now only worth $14. In total that is $833,000, a far cry from $13 million. (And this is Canadian money by the way, worth .84 U.S.).

This $833,000 is before the sealers lay out cash for fuel, provisions, boat repairs, insurance and equipment. This overhead is about 50% so this means that the hunt has netted a mere $416,500.

There are 6,000 licensed sealers. Split the net profits and it comes out to about $69.00 per sealer. Extended over the sealing season this works out to around $0.03 cents per hour.

And this is what Canada is losing $50 million a year in lost seafood sales over. This is the "mega-industry" that Canada is threatening to derail a 25 billion dollar trade agreement with. This is the kind of economic insanity that illustrates the complete financial incompetence of the Stephen Harper government in Canada.

The sealers are whining and bleating loudly.

"It's a black day for Atlantic Canada for this ban to go ahead," said Robert Courtney, president of the North of Smokey Fishermen's Association in Nova Scotia. "It's really going to have an impact because it's not just sealers who will be affected but fishermen, too. We didn't think they would do it."

The fishermen are screaming that the seals are eating all their fish yet the science has demonstrated that the shortage of fish has nothing to do with the seals and everything to do with human over-fishing operations. Five hundred years ago when there were 45 million seals including the now extirpated walrus. Now with only 10% of the original seal populations left, the fishermen continue to blame the seals, and the politicians who all suffer from serious homopecheaphobia (political fear of fishermen) do what the fishermen demand of them.

Courtney said the ban was voted upon based on inaccurate information from animal rights activists.

"They based their opinion on a 10-second clip. The activists provoked us, did everything in their power to get that clip," he said. "We've changed our regulations to make things more humane, but there is nothing we can do when the one purpose of the activists is to try to stop this seal hunt."

This statement of course is an insult to the intelligence of the European Parliamentarians many of whom did something Canadian politicians have not done - they went to the ice to see for themselves and what they saw appalled them.

In addition, the Canadian government did everything they could to prevent the documentation of cruelty on the ice by making it a crime to witness or document the slaughter of seals without government approval.

"The European Parliamentarians have been under pressure and blackmail for years, not just recently," Liberal Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette said Tuesday. "This was aggressive marketing by people who are mainly vegetarian. It has nothing to do with seals."

Hervieux-Payette has never seen the seal slaughter herself and her ignorance is revealed when she states that the opposition is mainly vegetarian. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a marine conservation organization and people who eat meat and condemn the seal hunt would never condone the inhumane slaughter tactics practiced on the ice in any abattoir in the world.

Seal hunt defenders have three worn and tired arguments, none of which carry any credibility. They state that only extremist animal rights people oppose the slaughter. They say that the slaughter is well regulated and humane. They claim that the slaughter is an economic necessity and they claim that the opponents of the seal slaughter do it for the money.

The European Parliament has rejected all of these claims, and the hunt defenders should be happy because no one will be raising funds to defend seals if they don't need defending.

"Our business has always been to put ourselves out business," said Captain Paul Watson, "and I will be overjoyed to be out of the business of saving seals and I am even more overjoyed that the sealers will be out of the murder business."

Captain Watson has opposed the seal slaughter since he was a boy of 10. He was raised in an East Coast Canadian fishing village.

"I saw a baby seal killed when I was 10 and the pleading frightened look in the eye of that pup has haunted me ever since and because of that look, I have spent a lifetime fighting this obscenity," he said.

"We are pleased that the European Parliament has responded to the concerns of their citizens, and did not give in to the emotional campaign of rhetoric and misinformation spread across Europe by the government of Canada," Sheryl Fink of IFAW said. "Unfortunately for Canadian taxpayers, our government's irrational support for slaughtering seals has become a matter of personal pride for a number of politicians. This is an emotional, knee-jerk reaction, not one that is socially or economically responsible."

Last week, Canadian Senator Mac Harb called on the government to provide an alternate industry and retraining for sealers in Atlantic Canada.

"It is a shame that the Canadian government has not yet taken the necessary steps to help transition the fishers involved in the commercial seal hunt into new and more viable industries," he said.

Senator Harb met with Sea Shepherd Director Alex Earl in Vancouver last week to receive 38,000 petition postcards from LUSH cosmetics. Senator Harb will deliver the petition cards to the Prime Minister personally.

Senator Mac Harb is the only Canadian politician with the courage to speak out against the slaughter of the seals.

After decades of effort, voyages into the ice, confrontations, beatings, arrests, jailings, fines, threats, meetings, presentations, writings, and protests - the entire anti-sealing movement can now enjoy the fruits of all our labors.

We have done it.

We have destroyed the most obscene and cruel market of suffering and death on this planet.

Thank-you Europe.

Sea Shepherd
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