Van Velzen writes to Foreign Minister asking for action to end Canadian seal hunt

28 March 2006

Van Velzen writes to Foreign Minister asking for action to end Canadian seal hunt

The Canadian hunting season has opened. This means that up to 350,000 seals will in the coming weeks be clubbed to death for their pelts, some of them being skinned alive. The Dutch government is waiting for European measures which will ban the import of seal furs, but SP Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen doesn't agree that we should rely on others to take action. In an open letter to Foreign Minister Ben Bot, she urges that immediate measures be taken by the Netherlands and asks the minister to take a stronger line with the Canadian government.

Krista van Velzen sees for herself the seal hunt in Canada in 2005

Dear Mr Bot,

I am writing this letter in order to repeat my request to you to take action against the seal hunt in Canada. I would be extremely pleased to see that our Minister for Foreign Affairs had heeded the wishes of 94% of the Dutch population to do everything in your power to put an end to the hunt and its destruction of almost a million seals in the last three years.

I am asking you therefore also to demonstrate your anger to the Canadian government and its ambassador in the Netherlands. You stated recently before Parliament that Canada had assured you that the seals were killed in a humane manner. This is not the case. Scientists estimate, for instance, that in reality twice as many seals are killed than is disclosed in the official statistics. Animals wounded by the pelt-hunters flea on to the thawing ice and die in the water. Moreover, a large proportion of the seals are skinned alive, most hunters do not check whether the animal is dead before it is skinned and many seals have to be clubbed a second time or shot because they remain conscious after the first blow or the first shot.

While it is true that a law has been proposed by Parliament which would forbid the import of seal products, the fact that this initiative has not come from yourself or your colleagues in government I find shameful. Together with Environment Minister Cees Veerman you say that you are awaiting European measures, but meanwhile the hunt is on for 320.000 seals.

97% of seals killed are under three months old, and the majority are under one month old. You have complete confidence in the Canadian policy and its enforcement, I do not. In the European Union there is already a flourishing market in seal fur. A European import ban would lead to a complete collapse of the market. I know that you and your colleagues are waiting for European measures, but that should not prevent you from insisting to the Canadian government that the seal hunt is disgraceful, cruel to animals and unnecessary. I am counting on your support!

Your sincerely,

Krista van Velzen
Member of Parliament for the SP

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