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Historic WTO Ruling Upholds EU Ban on Seal Product Trade

Confirms Rights of Nations to Prohibit Trade in Products of Cruelty to Animals

MONTREAL, QUEBEC -- (Marketwired) -- 05/22/14 -- The World Trade Organization has ruled in regards to the Canadian and Norwegian appeal of a 2013 WTO Panel decision in favour of the European Union ban on seal product trade. Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International Canada, had the following response:

"This landmark ruling upholds the right of the European Union to ban trade in products of commercial seal hunts. This is one of the most significant developments in the campaign to save the seals. The EU ban has already saved more than one million baby seals in Canada from a horrible fate. This decision confirms that global markets for products of commercial seal hunts are closed and commercial sealing has no future. Commercial sealing is on its way out and the only question is where we go from here. A responsible government would take action now to put a final end to the commercial seal slaughter and compensate sealers through a fair sealing industry buyout. Such a plan has broad support amongst sealers and would cost Canadians far less than continuing to prop up the commercial seal hunt with government subsidies. It is time the Canadian government stops wasting taxpayers dollars on a futile battle to preserve this cruel and outdated slaughter."


--  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. HSI does not oppose Inuit subsistence sealing.

--  More than seven in ten adults (72 percent) across 11 European Union
    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 2010, Canada and Norway challenged the EU ban at the WTO. HSI played
    a central role in helping the EU to defend its ban: extensive HSI video
    evidence of commercial sealing was shown to the WTO Panel, HSI
    coauthored an amicus brief that was considered in the case and HSI
    representatives attended the Panel hearings.

--  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

--  In January 2014, Canada and Norway appealed the WTO Panel report. The EU
    subsequently also appealed. HSI coauthored another amicus brief that was
    submitted to the WTO Appellate Body, and HSI representatives again
    attended the Appellate Body hearing.
--  The WTO appellate body ruled on May 22, 2014 and upheld the EU ban on
    trade in products of commercial seal hunts. It also found that the
    measure is not a technical regulation and therefore the TBT Agreement
    does not apply.

--  With more than two million seals killed since 2002, Canada's commercial
    seal slaughter is the largest slaughters of 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 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).

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, with active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation, farm animal welfare and animals in research. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International which, together with its partners, constitutes one of the world's largest animal protection organizations. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide - on the Web at

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