Europe lawmakers: Ban Canada seal products

STRASBOURG, France European Parliament members issued a declaration Wednesday demanding the European Union ban the import of seal products to protest Canada's seal hunt.

A written declaration signed by 368 lawmakers aims to shut the European market to seal hides and fur from Canada, officials said.

"Commercial seal hunting is a brutal and cruel practice, targeting seal pups only a few weeks old," said a statement issued by Swedish Green Party member Carl Schlyter and British Green Party member Caroline Lucas.

The declaration, which was not officially endorsed by the EU assembly, called on the EU's European Commission to draft a ban "without delay," the two lawmakers said.

The annual seal cull in Canada's Arctic and Atlantic regions has drawn widespread criticism across Europe and from animal rights activists.

Canada's biggest market for seal pelts is Norway, which is not an EU member.

Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands have, or are currently working on, national bans on seal products.

Canadian officials have defended the hunt saying it is vital to the survival of aboriginal peoples in the Arctic and provides an economic lifeline for a region desperate for jobs and growth.

Lucas and Schlyter said the ban should exempt the traditional Inuit hunt and focus only on commercial hunters.

"Ending the EU market for seal products will reduce demand for seal fur and be an important step toward ending this barbaric cull," they said.