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January 17, 2013

HSI Applauds Recommendation to the European Court of Justice to Uphold EU Ban on Trade in Products of Commercial Seal Hunts

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Commercial sealing interests continue to try and overturn the EU ban. Marcus Gyger

MONTREAL—Humane Society International/Canada commends an opinion by Advocate General Kokott that the European Court of Justice should reject an appeal by commercial sealing interests and some Inuit representatives. The appeal is regarding a 2011 decision by the European General Court to reject a request by the litigants to annul the European Union ban on trade in products of commercial seal slaughters.

"The opinion of Advocate General Kokott is a tremendous step forward in the protection of seals from inherently inhumane commercial seal slaughters, and we sincerely hope the European Court of Justice will follow this recommendation," said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of HSI/Canada. "Advocate General Kokott's opinion is just one more indication that there is no future in commercial sealing. Most Canadians oppose commercial sealing and so there is little domestic market for seal products, while international markets are closing fast. The Canadian government should take immediate action to implement a buyout of the commercial sealing industry."

Commercial sealing interests have repeatedly attempted to overturn the EU prohibition on commercial trade in seal products through the European General Court. Though the ban has a clear exemption for products of indigenous hunts, some Inuit representatives have questionably chosen to join that effort.

A sealing industry buyout would involve the Canadian government ending the commercial seal hunt, providing immediate compensation to sealers, and investing in economic alternatives in the communities involved. Polling shows broad support amongst Canadian sealers for the idea.

Facts:

  • In 2009, the European Parliament voted 550 to 49 in favor of a strong ban on trade in products of commercial seal hunts.
  • A vast majority - 86 percent - of Canadians support the right of the EU to ban seal product trade (Environics Research, 2008).
  • In 2010, the EU ban came into force. Applicants representing commercial and Inuit sealing interests filed a request with the European General Court, seeking to annul the ban.
  • In 2011, the European General Court ruled that the case was inadmissible because the litigants, which include the world's largest processor of commercial seal products, did not have standing. The litigants appealed the ruling and the matter is now before the European Court of Justice.
  • It is the role of the Advocate General to propose to the European Court of Justice, in complete independence, a legal solution to the cases for which they are responsible.
  • The Judges of the ECJ are now beginning their deliberations in this case, and their judgment will be given at a later date.
  • In addition to the EU, Belarus, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan and the United States have prohibited some or all commercial trade in seal products.

Media Contact: Dean Pogas, 514.395.2914, dpogas@humanesociety.org

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 eleven million members and constituents globally—on the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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