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16 Mar, 2009 06:13

Seal clubbing still rife in spite of protests

Animal rights activists have rallied in Moscow in protest of the continuous seal hunting in Northern Russia and hope for a ban on the practice.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin himself recently denounced the activity as inhumane

According to animal rights activists more than a 100,000 of these creatures are clubbed to death around the world annually. These bloodbaths are mostly done for the valuable pelts of these animals.

To draw the public's attention to the problem a crowd of people gathered in Moscow.

“The main enemies of seals are unfortunately humans, because of seal hunting their population is decreasing dramatically. And when I first saw photos and videos of how it's all done, I was deeply shocked,” said Igor Belyatskiy, press secretary for IFAW Russia.

The bloody business primarily takes place in Canada, Denmark, Namibia, Norway, and in the North Russian region of Archangelsk.

Last year a group of Russian celebrities deployed to the shores of the White Sea in the hope of saving some seals from the fate of clubbing.

As a result this activity is currently partially banned in Russia, but neighbouring Norway, where it is completely banned, actively invests in seal hunting on Russian territory.

A famous Russian TV host and journalist proposed action in protest.

“It is horrible that the White Sea was turned into a red one. The fact that it is actively sponsored by Norwegians is very disappointing. I propose everyone boycotts Norwegian salmon for a week. Their economy will collapse and they will start thinking – how to bring up these creatures instead,” said Mikhail Shirvind.

Minorities such as Russian Pamors, claim that seal hunting is their main source of income. For many centuries it was the main activity in their community, which developed into a commercial venture.

Animal rights activists counter their claims, saying the revenues are not as high as the Pamors make them out to be, and instead demand alternatives like ecological tourism.

“That there are some people in our country who feed themselves from the blood of baby seals – it never did any good for Russia. People shouldn't earn their living in such a barbaric way – it's bad for these people themselves,” said Oleg Mitvol from the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources.

Recently, the Russian minister of natural resources promised that a complete ban of seal hunting will be implemented, but did not specify when.

Similar rallies to that in Moscow are taking place in 20 different cities all over Russia in the hope that their efforts will lead to an official ban on killing seals younger than one year old.