From: Reuters
Published March 26, 2008 10:53 AM

EU to issue reports on Canada's seal killing

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's environment chief will present a report on the "inhumane killing" of seals in Canada in the next few months, his spokeswoman said amid persistent calls for a ban on fur imports.

"Commissioner (Stavros) Dimas is looking into the matter of the inhumane killings of seals and that we are preparing texts to be presented in the next few months to address this issue," spokeswoman Barbara Hellferich said.

Speaking at a daily European Commission media briefing, she did not say whether the EU executive would propose a ban on seal fur imports by the 27-nation bloc.

"I can't give you any details on this proposal ... We are hoping to have it ready before the summer," Hellferich said.

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Belgium and the Netherlands last year banned imports of seal products of their own, prompting Canada to launch a trade dispute with the EU as a whole in September.

The EU already bars imports of furs from white-coated pups -- known as the Brigitte Bardot ban after the animal rights campaigner and film star -- because of public revulsion over televised scenes of hunters clubbing pups to death on the ice.

Canada has argued at the World Trade Organization that there is no basis in science or international trade law to justify bans on the import of seal products, which provide an important source of income for many people in eastern Canada.

But the European Parliament last year called for a full EU ban on Canadian fur imports, prompting the Commission's investigations into the cull. Some of its members renewed their calls for the EU to act decisively on Wednesday.

"As the culling season gets under way, the time has come for the Commission to take action," said Neil Parish, a Conservative member of the legislature and head of its Animal Welfare group.

"The slaughter of seals in Canada, including seals that are just a few weeks old, is barbaric and the EU should not condone it," he said in a statement.

(Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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