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March 20, 2015

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

HSI applauds Advocate General for advising court to dismiss sealing industry appeal

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Chad Sisneros/HSI

The EU Advocate General Kokott is urging the European Court of Justice to reject an appeal brought by commercial sealing interests and some Inuit representatives. The appeal relates to a 2013 decision by the European General Court, which rejected the appellants’ request to find the legal basis and implementing measures for the EU ban on commercial seal product trade unlawful.

Humane Society International applauds the positive development in ending the annual seal slaughter.

Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada, said: "This strong opinion by Advocate General Kokott is yet another indication that seal product trade bans are justified and there is no future in commercial sealing. It is time the Canadian government stops artificially propping up this outdated industry with pointless subsidies and instead transitions sealers to more humane and economically viable opportunities."

Call for a federal buyout of Canada’s commercial sealing industry.

This is the final appeal in a series of cases brought by commercial sealing industry and some Inuit representatives in an attempt to annul the EU Regulation on trade in seal products. All cases brought thus far have been dismissed by the European Courts. A final judgment is expected in the coming months.

Other international courts are also supporting the EU decision to ban commercial seal products. In 2013, the World Trade Organization ruled on a challenge of the EU ban on seal product trade by Canada and Norway, upholding the right of the EU to ban trade in products of commercial sealing on the grounds of public morality. In 2014, the WTO considered an appeal of that ruling by Canada and Norway, and once again decided largely in favour of the EU.

Facts:

  • A vast majority - 86 percent - of Canadians support the right of the EU to ban seal product trade (Environics Research, 2008).
  • More than seven in 10 adults (72 percent) across 11 EU Member States support the ban on the sale of seal products in the EU (Ipsos MORI, 2011). More than 6,000 people were surveyed for the poll.
  • In 2009, the European Parliament voted 550 to 49 in favor of a strong ban on trade in products of commercial seal hunts. In 2010, the EU ban came into force.
  • Applicants representing commercial and Inuit sealing interests immediately filed a request with the European General Court to annul the ban. However, it was found that they did not have standing to institute proceedings.
  • The applicants then challenged the European Commission implementing regulation and made an indirect challenge alleging that the basic regulation is unlawful.
  • Once again the claim put forward by the applicants was unsuccessful. In 2013, the General Court dismissed their request for annulment as unfounded.
  • The applicants appealed the 2013 decision, and this is the matter currently before the Court.
  • 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, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United States have prohibited some or all commercial trade in seal products.


Media Contact: Christopher Paré – office: 514 395-2914 / cell: 438 402-0643, email: cpare@hsi.org

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