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April 4, 2012

Protect Seals: Europe

Humane Society International/Europe

  • Before the killing begins. HSI

  • The largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth. HSI

  • Seal pups are clubbed or shot to death for their fur. HSI

  • Help us end the slaughter: Boycott Canadian seafood today. HSI

  • Veterinary experts have called the seal hunt "inherently inhumane." Gray Mitchell

HSI/Europe is a leading force in the global campaign to end commercial seal slaughters.

EU seal trade product ban

After a long-running campaign by HSI and our supporters throughout Europe, the European Union introduced a Regulation prohibiting trade in products of commercial seal slaughters.

This historic piece of legislation, which entered into force in 2010, closed down one of Canada’s largest markets for seal products and contributed to a dramatic reduction in the number of harp seals slaughtered. In 2011, fewer than 38,000 harp seals were killed compared with more than 350,000 in 2006.

Closing markets

In addition to the European Union, the United States, Mexico, Croatia, the Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan and Taiwan also have trade restrictions on seal products in place.

Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement

Canada is seeking a lucrative trade deal, worth billions of dollars to the Canadian economy, with the European Union while at the same time trying to undermine the EU’s right to ban products of cruelty by challenging its historic seal trade product ban at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Many Members of the European Parliament have spoken out on the issue, and more than 100 have signed an open letter to the Canadian government stating that the European Parliament should not support CETA until the challenge is withdrawn.

An opinion poll in July 2011 showed that on average 72 per cent support the EU’s ban on the sale of seal products in Europe, and in March 2012, HSI submitted a 20,000 plus signature petition urging MEPs to defend the EU seal product trade ban.

HSI continues to work with politicians and officials in the European Union.

Canada’s WTO challenge

The Canadian government challenged the EU ban at the WTO in November 2009 and requested a dispute panel in February 2011 after consultations failed to resolve the matter. Later that year, in November, HSI joined with Canadian and European Parliamentarians to call upon Canada to withdraw its challenge and instead implement a federal buyout of commercial sealing industry.

The issue was discussed at a WTO meeting in February 2013, where several countries including Canada and Norway gave evidence. A second meeting is due in April 2013.

Canadian legal experts estimate the cost of the WTO challenge to be about $10 million—more than 13 times the landed value of the 2011 seal slaughter.

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