Beijing (AFP) April 12, 2011
Former "Baywatch" star and animal activist Pamela Anderson has called on China to join other countries in banning imports of seal meat and oil from her native Canada, calling seal-hunting inhumane.
Anderson sent a letter to China's minister of land and resources, Xu Shaoshi, inviting him to accompany her to Canada to witness the "cruelty of the annual seal slaughter".
"Please don't allow China to become a dumping ground for seal meat and oil products that even Canadians don't want," the letter said.
Canada and China reached an agreement earlier this year on Chinese imports of seal meat and oil after the European Union banned seal products following an activist outcry over commercial seal-hunting.
Dozens of Chinese animal rights groups hit out at Canada in January over that deal, accusing it of turning China into a "dumping ground" for seal products.
In her letter to Xu, released Tuesday by the animal rights group PETA, Anderson said many of the seals, some just months old and unable to escape, were bludgeoned to death with clubs that have sharp spikes mounted on them.
"If you witnessed this massacre, I'm sure that you'd have a change of heart about importing seal products into China," the letter said.
The Canadian government maintains that the 350-year-old commercial seal hunt is humane and crucial for some 6,000 North Atlantic fishermen who rely on it for up to 35 percent of their total annual income.
Animal rights groups, however, say it is barbaric, and have waged an aggressive campaign in recent years to stop it.
Anderson, a buxom Canadian sex symbol who gained fame as a Playboy magazine "playmate" and then on the US beach-rescue TV series "Baywatch", is a prominent animal rights activist.
Earlier this year she appealed, though PETA, to India's top medical institute to retire old monkeys used in scientific research, and last year called on Israel's ultra-orthodox Jews to abandon their traditional fur hats.
China is the third-largest importer of Canadian fish and seafood, behind the United States and European Union.
By authorising seal meat and oil imports, it joined Japan and South Korea as new markets for Canadian seal products.
China's government had no immediate response to Anderson's appeal.
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