Sir Paul McCartney has issued an impassioned appeal for an end to the senseless slaughter of baby harp seals taking place off Canada’s east coast.

The Canadian government has authorized the killing of up to 468,000 harp, hooded and grey seals. The seals—almost all just a few weeks of age—are shot, clubbed and skinned for their fur despite dwindling global demand for seal products. Humane Society International is the only organisation bearing witness to the 2015 commercial seal hunt.

McCartney said: "Canada's brutal commercial seal hunt has begun, and once again thousands of baby seals will be shot and bludgeoned to make fur products that nobody wants or needs. The European Union's trade ban on commercial seal hunt products has already helped save more than one million baby seals from a horrible fate. But we need to ensure the EU keeps this strong ban intact. That's why my friends at Humane Society International are once again setting out for the ice flows for the grim task of catching this horror on film. Their videos of the bloody seal slaughter provide the only vital evidence to demonstrate year after year that these seals are dying a horrible death for their fur. As HSI bears witness to this cruelty, I wish them well and hope that this will be the last year that Canada's ice turns red."

The iconic musician, who visited the harp seal nursery with HSI in 2006, is also highlighting the importance of maintaining a strong European Union ban on commercial seal product trade. Following public outcry at the animal suffering, the EU banned trade in products of commercial seal hunts in 2009. While the World Trade Organisation has twice upheld the EU’s right to ban this trade, the EU must now tweak the Regulation to bring it into compliance with international trade requirements.

Global markets for seal products are closing fast. The EU, the United States, Switzerland, Mexico, Taiwan and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia have all stopped their trade in some or all products of commercial seal hunts.

Chinese authorities have also blocked attempts to import seal meat into China. This has caused a dramatic decline in prices for seal products in Canada, convincing most sealers not to participate in the slaughter and sparing more than one million seal pups from a horrible fate.