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October 10, 2014

HSI Canada Welcomes EU-Canada Statement on Trade in Products of Traditional Inuit Seal Hunts

  • HSI

Humane Society International/Canada applauds the Canadian government and the European Union for working to ensure an exemption for products of traditional Inuit seal hunts, included in the 2009 EU ban on commercial seal product trade, is applied fairly to all Inuit communities. The following is a statement from Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada:

“Humane Society International opposes the commercial seal slaughter of baby seals for their fur in Atlantic Canada. We have never campaigned against Inuit subsistence sealing, which occurs in a different part of the country, at a much smaller scale, for different reasons. In fact, we worked very closely with the European Union to ensure an exemption for products of traditional Inuit hunts was included in the legislation.

This joint statement ensures that, moving forward, steps will be taken to ensure that this exemption will be applied in an even-handed way. We are pleased to see Canada and the European Union cooperating to find constructive solutions to resolve this trade issue.

We hope that Canada will now consider a sealing industry buyout for the commercial sealers in Atlantic Canada. This plan, which would involve compensating commercial sealers for their licenses and investing in economic alternatives, has already achieved broad support within the commercial sealing community.”


  • Humane Society International has campaigned to end Canada's commercial seal hunt for many years. HSI does not oppose Inuit subsistence sealing.
  • In 2009, the EU prohibited trade in the products of commercial seal slaughters, a move supported by 86 percent of Canadians (Environics Research, 2008).
  • The EU ban contains a clear exemption for products of traditional Inuit seal hunts.
  • 73 percent of Inuit people in Nunavut feel their traditional seal hunt is unfairly compared to commercial sealing in Atlantic Canada and a majority support international prohibitions on seal product trade as long as products of traditional Inuit seal hunts are exempted. (Environics Research, 2013)
  • In 2010, Canada and Norway challenged the EU ban at the WTO. HSI played a central role in helping the EU to defend its ban.
  • In 2013, the WTO ruled that the EU ban on trade in commercial seal products is justifiable on public morality grounds. The WTO Panel noted in the decision that commercial sealing poses inherent risks to animal welfare.
  • In January 2014, Canada and Norway appealed the WTO Panel report. The WTO appellate body ruled on May 22, 2014 and largely upheld the EU ban on trade in products of commercial seal hunts.
  • With more than two million seals killed since 2002, Canada's commercial seal slaughter is the largest hunt for marine mammals on earth. The seals are killed primarily for their fur and, because most Canadians oppose commercial sealing, the sealing industry relies almost exclusively on export markets to sell its products.
  • Global markets for commercial seal products are closing fast. In addition to the EU, the United States, Mexico, Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Taiwan have ended some or all trade in products of commercial seal hunts.

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

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