Since 1975, Fondation Franz Weber (FFW) has fought to put an end to the cruel practice of seal hunting. The goal is to obtain a global ban on the import of products derived from these animals. With the support of Brigitte Bardot, Franz Weber succeeded in putting an end to seal hunting for a period of 12 years. Furthermore, he achieved that newborn seals - still with their white coat - are no longer allowed to be killed.
The protection of seals is one of the most successful and symbolic campaigns undertaken by Fondation Franz Weber (FFW), as the FFW logo reveals.
Back in the 1980s, the United States and Mexico banned the importation of seal products. Credit for the EU ban on the import of seal products in 2010 certainly goes to FFW. In 2006, a Member of European Parliament and media representatives accompanied Vera Weber, President of FFW, onto the pack ice fields of Labrador, Canada to observe the hunting of baby seals. They witnessed absolutely horrifying and cruel slaughters of animals just a few weeks old. These witnesses were also subject to the ruthless aggression and violence of the seal hunters, which included the hunters dangerously ramming their vehicle into the observers' car while driving. Watch the SRF report here.
The actions of FFW prompted the European Parliament to introduce an embargo on products sourced from such practices. A wonderful victory for seals and the protection of animals in general! Russia followed their example in 2011. Canada and Norway opposed this embargo, and took the case to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to contest the validity of the EU legislation. However, the WTO rejected the arguments made by these two countries on first instance, deciding that the European embargo on seal products was justified on the grounds of 'public morality'. This decision was confirmed by the WTO's Appeal Body on 22 May 2014.
In Switzerland, an initial motion to ban the importation of seal products was rejected by Parliament in 2010. Subsequently, on 21 June 2011, FFW and OceanCare submitted a petition with almost 100,000 signatures to the Swiss Parliament, demanding that these imports be banned in Switzerland. On the same day, a second motion was introduced together with National Council Member Oskar Freysinger. This motion was accepted by the National Council in 2012. But the Council of States waited for the outcome of WTO proceedings. Following the decision by WTO, the import ban was approved by the Council of States and finally approved and adopted by the National Council after differences were settled. Hence, the import of seal products is forbidden in Switzerland (press release, in French).
These trade restrictions have allowed to diminish the number of seals killed around the world, notably due to a dramatic decrease in pelt prices. Sealing is therefore becoming less and less profitable for those practising it. With baffling doggedness and annual million subsidies, however, Canada refused to back down on its sickening massacres. Thus Vera Weber returned to the scene every spring from 2011 to 2013 to record the brutality of the slaughter - massacres that violate every single international standard on animal welfare.
FFW hopes that new developments relating to the import of seal products, particularly the WTO decision, will allow this barbaric, senseless practice to end for good. Until then, we will continue to take action.
Find documents and summaries regarding WTO proceedings here.