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November 2, 2009

HSI Canada Condemns Canadian Government Request for WTO Consultations on EU Seal Product Trade Ban

Humane Society International/Canada

Humane Society International/Canada condemns the Canadian government's reported request for consultations at the World Trade Organization in response to the European Union's ban on seal product trade, stating that the move flies in the face of Canadian values and sound economics.

"The Canadian government is acting in direct opposition to the views of Canadians, the overwhelming majority of whom supported the right of the EU to ban seal product trade," said Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International/Canada. "This ill-advised attack on European values is doomed to failure and will seriously damage our relationship with our second largest trading partner."

National polling consistently shows the majority of Canadians want the commercial seal hunt to end, oppose the Canadian government using tax dollars to promote the sealing industry and support the rights of foreign nations to prohibit trade in seal products. (Environics Research, 2008; Pollara, 2008)

Canadian legal experts have estimated the cost of a WTO challenge to cost about $10 million — seven times the landed value of the seal hunt this year. Moreover, Canada and the European Union are attempting to negotiate a free-trade deal estimated to be worth $12 billion to the Canadian economy annually — a highly problematic time for Canada to challenge EU trade law.

The United States — Canada's largest trading partner — has prohibited seal product trade since 1972. With the EU and Mexico recently following suit, the globally-condemned Canadian sealing industry is running out of places to trade its products. HSI/Canada and some sealers are now advocating a federal buyout of the commercial sealing industry — a plan in which sealers would be fairly compensated for lost revenue as the commercial seal kill is ended for good.

Canada's seal slaughter is conducted by commercial fishermen who earn, on average, less than 5 percent of their annual income from killing seals. To provide an economic incentive to Canada's fishing industry to stop the seal slaughter, The Humane Society of the United States and its international arm, HSI are promoting a boycott of Canadian seafood products that will continue until the seal hunt is ended for good.  To date, more than 5,500 establishments and 650,000 individuals have joined the boycott, pledging to avoid some or all Canadian seafood until the seal slaughter ends.

Facts:

  • Canada's commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth, with more than 1 million seals killed in the past five years alone.
  • 97 percent of the seals killed are defenseless pups less than 3 months old.
  • The seals are killed primarily for their fur, which is exported to Europe, Russia and Asia for use in fashion markets.
  • Veterinary experts have concluded Canada's commercial seal hunt is inherently inhumane given the extreme environmental conditions in which the sealers operate and the speed at which the killing must be conducted.

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International — one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than ten million members and constituents globally — on the web at hsicanada.ca.

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