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18 Mar, 2009 13:18

Russia introduces complete ban on baby seal hunt

Russia has finally imposed a complete ban on hunting Greenland seal pups, the credit for which should be partially given to the efforts of public ecological organisations, the Natural Resources and Ecology Minister said.

Yury Trutnev thanked all those who held an active stand on the issue, writes the Prime-Tass news agency.

This latest ban follows an earlier one introduced in February on hunting seal pups up to one month old, known as 'whitecoats'.

The problem with it was that the pups aged from one month to a year might still be hunted. There had been a practice among hunters to catch the little 'whitecoats' and keep them in special enclosures until they became older and turned into 'tufty seals' – the baby seals which start casting their coat.

Until now, the law permitted hunting 'tufties' and 'greycoats' – the baby seals which completely cast their white coat and become grey but are still under a year old.

Many of the residents around the White Sea depend on sales from seal products, especially their fat, for survival.

It had been allowed for 35,000 baby seals to be killed annually and, according to Ministry data, the number of Greenland seals in Russia decreased from more than 300,000 to 200,000 during the last ten years.

Recently, a series of protests against seal hunting were held in 20 different cities across Russia.

Now, all baby seals in the country are protected by the newly-imposed ban.

Due to their cuddly looks, 'whitecoats' became the face of a worldwide campaign against seal hunting. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has been trying to win the battle for around 40 years.

But the practice of clubbing the animals to death (in order not to spoil their pelts) is still permitted by Canada, Denmark and Norway.