09/08/2015 12:36 EDT | Updated 09/08/2016 05:12 EDT

Canada Urged To Abandon Seal Hunt After EU Tightens Ban

Joe Raedle via Getty Images
CHARLOTTETOWN, CANADA - MARCH 24: A Harp seal pup lies on an ice floe in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence March 24, 2008 in Charlottetown, Canada. Canada's seal hunt is expected to start later this week while the government has said this year 275,000 harp seals can be harvested. The Humane Society International/Canada and The Humane Society of the United States have condemned the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans following its announcement of the 2008 commercial seal hunt quota. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MONTREAL — An animal rights advocate is urging the Canadian government to finally abandon its efforts to save the commercial seal hunt after the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to strengthen a trade ban on seal products.

Rebecca Aldworth of Humane Society International Canada said Tuesday's vote in Brussels, Belgium, is further proof the industry is dead in the water.

"This is a watershed moment to end the commercial seal hunt in Canada and it's very clear that the European Union will no longer provide a financial incentive for this cruelty to continue," Aldworth said from Montreal.

"It's time the Canadian government stop pouring money into futile challenges of European law and instead focus on creating a better future for sealers and their communities."

The Humane Society has long called for a federal buyout program for the commercial seal industry.

"It would put far more money into the pockets of Canadian fishermen than propping up this dead industry through subsidies ever could," said Aldworth.

A request for comment from the federal Fisheries Department was not immediately returned. It has defended the hunt as humane and sustainable, and had launched a challenge at the World Trade Organization to overturn the ban.

The European Parliament voted 631-31 in favour with 33 abstentions to bolster the ban and meet World Trade Organizations demands. The revised ban, which still needs approval from EU nations, would see restrictions increased on exemptions the Inuit currently enjoy with tougher conditions to respect animal welfare.

Indigenous people in Canada have argued their livelihoods depend on their ability to hunt seals and sell their products.

— With files from The Associated Press

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