Canada Loses Appeal of the WTO Ruling, Allowing the EU Seal Product Import Ban to Stand
An Animal Rights Article from

May 2014

The WTO Appellate Body "upheld the Panel's finding that the EU Seal Regime is 'necessary to protect public morals.'"

Read the WTO Dispute Resolution summaries here. The last appeal summary is at the bottom of the page.

From March 17 to March 19, hearings took place in Geneva in Canada and Norway's appeal of the WTO decision last year to allow the 2009 EU seal product import ban to stand. Canada argued that the WTO should overturn its decision. Last year, the WTO found that the EU ban was justified because EU citizens deemed the seal slaughter morally reprehensible. We wholeheartedly agree.

"The Appellate Body also upheld the Panel's conclusion that the EU Seal Regime is inconsistent with Article I:1 because it does not “immediately and unconditionally” extend the same market access advantage to Canadian and Norwegian seal products that it accords to seal products originating from Greenland."

We believe that the EU should eliminate the inconsistency by banning all seal products, whether from Greenland, Canada's Inuit traders, or fishermen who legally cull seals in Europe. Furthermore, we believe that there is no scientific or moral justification for culling seals in Europe, so this practice must stop.

harp seals seal hunt
Sealer drags harp seal pup onto boat.
Photo from HSUS/HSI video 2014

Over 54,000 harp seal pups have been killed by off-season fishermen in Canada

The second phase of the seal 'hunt' in Canada, known as the Front, is underway. This is the main phase of the seal 'hunt'.

As of May 22nd, the official number of harp seal pups who have been killed from the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans is 54,645.

View footage obtained by Humane Society International here. Note how many times the sealer in the first segment clubs the seal pup and how weakly he clubs the seal. He is clearly not trying to 'dispatch' the seal pup quickly and efficiently.

Read an article, entitled, "The moral problem with commercial seal hunting," by Dr. Andrew Butterworth, Senior Lecturer in Animal Sciences and Senior Fellow at the University of Bristol, UK.

Quotas are set for each region. The total kill quota for the Front is 270,701 seals. In the past few years, sealers have not met unrealistically large quotas (which have remained at 400,000 overall) but still killed about 37,000 to 90,000 seal pups. This year, Carino, the main seal pelt processor, has offered to buy 60,000 seal pelts.

One of the harp seal pelt buyers is now Hatem Yavuz, who is also the main buyer of Cape fur seal pelts from Namibia. More than 60,000 seals may be killed for a number of reasons. One is that every year, seals are 'struck and lost', which means that they are injured by sealers but escape, only to die later. In addition, in the past, excess pelts have been warehoused, dumped, and burned.

The First Phase of the Canadian Seal 'Hunt'

This year, the first phase of the seal 'hunt' went relatively well for the seals. The ice was much better this year, which means mother harp seals were able to find good ice floes on which to give birth to their pups. This leads to much better survival rates. With lower demand for seal pelts, as a result of import bans in many countries around the world, few sealers from the Magdalen Islands participated in the commercial seal hunt and few seals were killed.

In addition to the harp seal 'hunt', Canada authorized a grey seal 'hunt' this year, and 47 grey seals have been killed.

harp seals seal hunt
Photo by Eric Baccega

Canada's Government Subsidies for Sealing

Canada's federal government gave about a half million Canadian dollars to a sealing trade association to fund market development for seal meat late last year. Whether this association will be successful in convincing people in the remaining countries without seal product bans to consume meat that even most sealers and their families refuse to eat is a mystery.

The provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador gave $60,000 this year to another sealing group to fund an "awareness" campaign to promote sealing and seal products. We look forward to seeing and responding to the propaganda that results from this (ab)use of taxpayer money.

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