Taiwan has passed a landmark ban on trade in marine mammal products, including seal skins, but exempting products of traditional indigenous hunts. The Taiwanese Legislative Yuan passed the legislation with unanimous support following a multi-year campaign by Taiwanese animal protection group EAST.
Taiwan is the first country in Asia to prohibit the sale of marine mammals and related products.
“Citizens of Taiwan care deeply about animal welfare, and we do not want to trade in products of cruelty that the rest of the world has rejected,” said Wu Hung, executive director of EAST. “I am very proud of the leadership Taiwan has shown in banning trade in marine mammal products. I hope that many other nations will follow suit, and that the Canadian government will finally do as the majority of Canadians and people around the world want and end the seal hunt for good.”
“Between 2003 and 2009, Taiwan imported 430,000 kilograms of seal oil, which made us the 4th largest importer of seal oil in the world. Through our trade in seal products, consumers in Taiwan were unintentionally involved in the killing of thousands of innocent seals in Canada,” said Legislator Lin of the Legislative Yuan in Taiwan. “Taiwan’s decision is an important step forward for animal protection and conservation in Asia.” Canada’s commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth. With the United States, European Union and Russia prohibiting trade in seal products, the Canadian sealing industry has sought to develop alternate markets in Asia, sparking protests in mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan.
EAST launched their campaign to secure a Taiwanese ban on seal product trade in 2010, achieving massive public support for the move and convincing many retailers in Taiwan to voluntarily discontinue sales of seal products. The prohibition on trade in marine mammal products cements Taiwan’s position and ensures that its trade in marine mammal products will never resume.