02/01/2012 06:46 EST | Updated 04/02/2012 05:12 EDT

Keith Ashfield: Seal Fur Pins Show Support For Embattled Industry, Fisheries Minister Says

OTTAWA - The federal fisheries minister is encouraging all members of Parliament to show their support for Canada's embattled sealing industry by wearing a lapel pin made from seal fur.

Keith Ashfield issued a statement saying the pins would be made available Thursday in the House of Commons.

Ashfield, a New Brunswick MP, says sealing is a way of life for thousands of Canadians on the East Coast and in the Far North.

The minister's appeal comes as the centuries-old commercial sealing industry is on the verge of collapse as international markets dry up.

In December, the federal government confirmed that the world's largest buyer of Canadian seal products — the Russian Federation — had banned importing harp seal pelts.

The European Union banned importing seal products in 2010, and the federal government has failed to deliver on a promise to open the Chinese market to Canadian seal meat.

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