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November 25, 2013

HSI Applauds the World Trade Organization for Upholding EU Seal Product Trade Ban

Humane Society International

  • The EU seal product trade ban took effect in August 2010. HSI

BRUSSELS—The World Trade Organization released the final report regarding the Canadian and Norwegian challenge of the European Union ban on trade in products of commercial seal hunts. 

Humane Society International played a central role in helping to defend the ban. Extensive HSI video evidence of commercial sealing was shown to the WTO panel. HSI co-authored an Amicus Brief that was considered in the case and HSI representatives attended the Panel hearings.

HSI’s EU Director Joanna Swabe issued the following statement in response to the release of the report:

“The WTO's decision to uphold the EU trade ban on cruel products of commercial seal slaughters sets an important precedent for other nations seeking to rid their markets of cruelty and abuse. The global market for seal pelts is virtually non-existent, and the EU has a right to refuse this bloody trade that conflicts with the ethical concerns of their citizens.”

Take action to protect seals.


  • 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 are entitled to appeal the decision, a process that could take more than a year. During this time, the ban can remain in place and, regardless of the ultimate outcome, the EU has many options, including retaining the ban in its original form (while facing trade sanctions) or a modifying it to come into compliance with the WTO agreements.
  • 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 to do 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 three 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: Wendy Higgins, HSI/UK: +44 (0)7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org

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