Canada Loses Fight Against EU Ban On Seal Products

May 23, 2014

The World Trade Organization has rejected Canada’s appeal of a ban that keeps pelts and other products from the country’s seal hunt from being imported into the European Union. The ban was instituted on moral grounds, the EU says.

From Toronto, Dan Karpenchuk reports for our Newscast unit:

“The WTO decision upheld a previous ruling that the European Union ban is necessary to protect public morals regarding animal welfare, meaning that concerns about animal welfare can override commercial interests.

“The EU banned seal products in 2010, arguing that the seal hunt causes pain and distress to the animals.

“Canada and Norway insist the hunt is done in an ethical manner, and argued the ban set a dangerous precedent because it was based on morality rather than science. The WTO did find that aspects of the embargo breached international obligations, and that exemptions have not been fairly applied.

“Animal rights groups were quick to praise the ruling. For Canada, it’s the end of the line for the appeals process.”

After the WTO issued its ruling Thursday, Sheryl Fink, who is the Canadian Wildlife Programs director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said, “This is a wonderful day for seals.”

Canada’s seal hunt is regulated by the government.

“The Canadian government set the quota for the seal slaughter this year at 400,000,” The Globe and Mail reports. “But it is estimated that fewer than 55,000 of the animals have been killed by hunters as the season nears an end.”

The newspaper adds that the most recent hunt was impeded by thick ice that made it tougher for boats to reach the seals. The price for skins is currently “between $30 and $35 in the few markets left,” the Globe and Mail says.

Federal and regional governments support sealers through subsidies, loans and other avenues, leading an economist to conclude in 2009 that Canada could save at least $6.9 million annually if it shut down the industry.

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