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February 15, 2013

Defending the EU Seal Product Trade Ban

Humane Society International/Canada

  • The ban should stand. Chad Sisneros/HSI

At the forefront of the campaign to ban seal product trade in the European Union, Humane Society International achieved a major victory for animal welfare when the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly (550-49) in favour of a seal product trade ban in 2009.

In fact, 86 percent of Canadians supported the right of the EU to do so. But aggressive lobbying by the Canadian sealing industry persuaded the Canadian government to challenge the ban at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The move was viewed as an aggressive attack on European morals and democratic processes, and is happening even as Canada attempts to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU.

The EU Regulation passed in July 2009, and Canada and Norway initiated the challenge at the WTO several months later, in November of 2009. After consultations failed to resolve the matter, Canada and Norway requested a dispute panel in February of 2011, but did not follow through to actually compose a panel until recently.

In June 2011, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on EU-Canada Trade Relations threatening to block ratification of CETA if Canada fails to withdraw it. More than 100 MEPs have signed an open letter to the Canadian government saying the EU Parliament should not ratify CETA until Canada drops its challenge.

Humane Society International continues to support the EU ban on trade in seal products and has, together with a number of other animal protection organizations, filed an amicus brief with the WTO in defense of the ban.

Read or download the amicus brief [PDF].

Read the EU submission [PDF].

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