Sea Shepherd Conservation Society applauds the fact that the European Parliament has adopted a proposal by South-East England's Green Party Euro-MP Caroline Lucas designed to halt the annual slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seals in Canada and Russia.

Lucas, who is also a Vice-President of the RSPCA, which awarded her its "Michael Kay Award" earlier this year to mark an "outstanding contribution to European animal welfare," co-sponsored a Written Declaration, along with four other parliamentary colleagues, calling for a ban on the import or sale of any products from hooded or harp seals.

Written Declarations are the European Parliament's equivalent of an Early Day Motion in the UK House of Commons. They rarely receive the support of sufficient MEPs to become the parliament's official policy - but with 373 signatures lodged, the call for a seal fur import ban has done so two weeks ahead of its parliamentary deadline.

Dr Lucas, also the Green Party's Principal Speaker, said, "This is fantastic news, which brings us a significant step closer to ending the cruel and entirely unnecessary slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seals in Canada and Russia every year.

"I am delighted that a majority of MEPs from all political groups and EU member nations have agreed that this barbaric practice must be ended - and the onus is now on the European Commission to act immediately, as MEPs have demanded, before next year's hunt."

The declaration, which was formally adopted today (Wednesday, September 6th) calls for the European Commission to immediately ban the trade in seal body parts and products - a ban already adopted in Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Croatia, and the US, and under consideration by the Council of Europe.

Dr Lucas initially proposed the ban after it emerged that more than a million wild harp and hooded seals have been slaughtered in Canada in just the last three years - and over a hundred thousand seal pups have suffered a similar fate in Russia.

She said, "More than 20 years after the EU banned the import of fur products from the very youngest seal pups, hundreds of thousands of seals pups annually - most just a few weeks old - are clubbed on the ice floes or shot from moving boats as they attempt to flee. Many are skinned alive.

"And every year there is public outrage when pictures of the hunt are broadcast around the world - but the most 'telegenic' pictures are taken near the end of the annual hunt, and the outrage comes too late for another generation of seals."

Dr Lucas added, "Banning the import of all seal fur is the only guaranteed way of saving thousands of animals' lives and showing the EU takes animal welfare and protection issues seriously."

Loyola Hearn angered many Canadian War Veterans when he told European Parliament members in Belgium last week that Europeans should be ashamed to vote against a seal ban after so many Canadians died liberating Europe during World War II.

"Mr. Hearn arrogantly declared that all Canadian veterans support the slaughter of seals. He declared that all those who died supported the slaughter of seals. He is not the voice of Canadians both alive and dead. Sea Shepherd has many members who are Canadian war veterans who were appalled by the threats made in their name and in the name of the honoured dead by the Fisheries Minister to European Parliament members," said Captain Paul Watson.

The majority of Canadians are opposed to the brutal and ecologically destructive annual slaughter of seals.

In 1998, Captain Watson, whose Acadian family roots go back to the early 1600's in Acadia renounced his Canadian citizenship in protest to the shameful annual slaughter of seals.

Click here to read the Written Declaration in full.

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