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. EU committee votes for ban on seal products

File image.
by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) March 2, 2009
The European Union took a step closer on Monday towards banning products made from seals with a vote against the practice by a committee of its parliament.

The European Parliament's internal market and consumer affairs committee voted to ban products made from seals, with an exception made for traditional Inuit hunting.

"The ban would cover bringing to market products derived from seals, the import (to the EU), their transit through EU territory and their export from it," a statement from the parliament said.

The European Commission had already proposed a ban in July for seals killed in ways deemed inhumane by critics of seal hunting, such as the clubbing of young seal pups.

The full European Parliament is to vote on the ban at a April 1 plenary session in Brussels. The measure also has to be approved by EU governments before it can be implemented.

The proposed ban has raised concern in Canada, a major seal skin exporter.

Seals are hunted mainly for their pelts, but also for meat and fat, which is used in beauty products.

According to the European Commission, Canada, Greenland, and Namibia account for about 60 percent of the 900,000 seals hunted each year, with Canada being the biggest source.

Seals are also hunted in Iceland, Norway, Russia, and the United States as well as in EU member states Britain, Finland and Sweden.

Each year, anti-sealing activists clash with sealers and Canadian fisheries officials on Canada's Atlantic coast, denouncing the hunt as cruel.

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South Africa seeks homes for stray hippos
Cape Town (AFP) March 2, 2009
South African environmental authorities are looking for homes for hippos, putting out a plea Monday for people to offer their premises to a hippopatamus that has moved into a water treatment plant.

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