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November 26, 2013

HSI/Canada Condemns Canadian Government Appeal of WTO Seals Ruling

Humane Society International/Canada

  • The EU ban is justified. Kathy Milani/The HSUS

MONTREAL—The overwhelming majority of Canadians supported the right of the European Union to ban seal product trade, and the World Trade Organization has ruled that the ban was justified. Despite this, the Canadian government announced its intention to appeal the WTO’s decision.

Humane Society International/Canada’s executive director Rebecca Aldworth said:

“The WTO panel acknowledged that animal welfare is not only an issue of a moral nature in the EU, but also a matter of ethical responsibility for human beings in general. Unfortunately, the commercial seal hunt remains a moral blind spot for the Canadian government. It is reprehensible that the Canadian government intends to waste even more taxpayers’ dollars on this appeal in direct opposition to Canadian public opinion. Canada should instead implement a buyout of the sealing industry and put commercial sealing in the past.”


  • Eighty-six percent of Canadians supported the right of the European Union to prohibit trade in seal products (Environics Research, 2008).
  • In 2010, Canada and Norway launched a WTO challenge against the European Union in response to its seal product trade ban. All parties presented their cases earlier this year and the WTO panel has issued its final report to the parties. Parties can challenge the decision, a process that could take more than a year. During this time, the ban can remain in place and, regardless of the outcome, the EU has many options, including retaining the ban in its original form or a modified version.
  • Humane Society International has campaigned to end Canada’s commercial seal hunt for many years, documenting the commercial seal slaughter each year and escorting media and parliamentarians doing the same. HSI has also worked to remove the economic incentives for fishermen to commercially slaughter seals.
  • Global markets for seal products are closing fast. In 2009, the European Union joined the United States, Mexico and Croatia in prohibiting trade in products of commercial seal hunts. In 2011, the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus prohibited trade in harp seal fur and, in 2013 Taiwan ended its trade in all marine mammal products (including seal products).
  • With more than 2 million seals killed since 2002 alone, Canada’s commercial seal slaughter is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth.
  • The seals are killed primarily for their fur and because the skins of very young pups are the most valuable, 98 percent of the seals killed are less than 3 months old at the time of slaughter.
  • Because most Canadians oppose commercial sealing, the sealing industry relies almost exclusively on export markets to sell its products.


Media Contact: Christopher Paré, 514.395.2914/438-402-0643, cpare@hsi.org

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