Canada takes EU seal ban to WTO

Complaint alleges ban violates trade obligations


The Canadian government will take its case against the EU’s seal ban to the World Trade Organization. Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea says negotiations with EU officials are at an impasse and accuses them of siding with animal rights activists. Canada and the EU have spent a year in a “consultation stage” on the issue for over a year and no progress has been made. In 2009, Europe’s 27 member states voted to band seal products from Canada, after lobbying from celebrities like Brigitte Bardot and Paul McCartney. Canada wants the ban revoked on account of it violating EU trade obligations.

CBC News

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Canada takes EU seal ban to WTO

  1. They could probably ask the court to let the activists live in those God forsaken areas without means for a living, food, and supplies, see where it will get them. If they successfully live without any help from outside for 10 years (just like the natives and the people living in these areas have been doing for a long time), then we Canadian should take our hats or ehrr furrs off for them. I would like to vote Paul McCartney to live in an igloo somewhere in Nunavut (kind of like Survivors for ten years without help/supplies from outside/ers).

    • Ariadne
      The ban on seal products does not apply to aboriginal hunters though. Meanwhile, there are other occupations for Newfoundlanders these days and they would be better off pursuing them.

      And our government would be better to leave off beating this dead horse.

      • Riiight. So you're in France and are offered a sealskin hat. "Lovely," you say, "Just let me go back through the history of this hat to see the aboriginal hunter who killed the seal." Because that would be so easy to do. A ban on seal HUNTING may not apply to aboriginal hunters, but products? But Newfoundlanders should be content with fishing for cod since they're in such abundance, or perhaps lobster since the price for them is so high . . . oh, wait.

        • Jenn_
          Sorry I'm not getting you. Fur from the Aboriginal seal hunt are already exempt from the ban; therefore if a sealskin hat is in a Europe store a savvy shopper would have zero effort to make – the mere fact of availability means it is not banned. A more sensible approach for the government of Canada would be to invest their efforts and our money in actively promote those products as such. Rebrand, in other words.

          I think Newfoundlanders are badly served by being given false hope on this – I don't believe the protests of the Canadian government will change a single mind in Europe on the whole "clubbing of baby seals" however wrong-headed it looks from here. Flogging a dead horse and basically twanging a reliable chord in voters which politicians of all parties are wont to do.

          Newfoundlanders would be better off looking to new enterprises on which to build a diversified, sustainable economy just like people in other provinces. As they are currently flush with oil money, this would be a good time to do it.

          • I see your point, and it has some merit. Rebrand the product as coming from Aboriginals, who surely know how to keep warm around snow and ice (and isn't that what your experiencing now) kind of thing. Then, once the product from Aboriginals catches on and demand is driven up, Newfoundlanders can help out! In the meantime, Newfoundlanders can sell their product here. I can't say I've ever seen seal anything in any of the stores I frequent. Now, I frequent Zellers and the dollar store mostly, but still.

          •  The problem, Jenn_, is there are no jobs — no income — for the Inuit in Nunavut. Selling seal product brings in much-needed income to communities that are solely existing off government allowances, with no other options, faced with monstrous food prices and no money for infrastructure. Fifteen people — two families — could be sharing one, shitty, mould-infested home. And there is no money to fix this. So when they hunt seal for subsistence (often they will share the edible meat, fat and organs throughout the community) and they have pelts left over they can make money off, who are you to say they shouldn’t?

      • Your naivette is so refreshing. How do you think they will go about it? Will the activitists shout "Ban Seal Products….other than those harvested by Natives only!" or why not "Buy Native seal products!"? Do you really believe they will do that? For one thing the first one is quite a mouthful (won't sell, it has no rhyme to it ) , let alone impossible to enforce. As for the later, you might as well suggest to the activists to eat seals, it would literally turn them green. Another thing, will the percentage of nativeness be an issue? Will they do DNA testing to see how native is the person selling these seal products are? How do you promote and sell a native seal products that is banned?

        • Araidne
          I'm not sure where naivete comes into it – the products of aboriginal hunters are already exempt from the ban.

          Products have rebranded themselves and it could be done with seal fur. Wearing fur is making a comeback in fashion and sustainably hunted, wild seal fur could be marketable to enviro conscious Europeans given the right kind of approach. Particularly if their winters continue to include snow and colder temps. That approach would absolutely have to distance itself from the banned hunt as much as possible; railing against the ban has the opposite effect.

          As to seal meat – I have never tried it but my understanding is it is simply not very palatable to those who are not Inuit, activist or not. This on the (admittedly limited) word of some friends originally from Newfoundland; it's described as greasy and with a strong fishy smell; let's face it, if seal was going to catch on as food, surely it would be on at least some of our plates by now.

          • Kathryn,
            Well spoken…not much more to say.
            The traditional hunting methods will again take over and the seal fur products will regain value and respect in the EU.

            If the mass hunting would have found less cruel methods to kill the seals the EU would most likely not have come with this Regulation in the first place. It may therefore be seen as a selfinflicted damange caused by a non change in hunting methods.

            Furthermore Canada has other market options than Europe. China seams to be a new potential market. Not sure the will last either, but if the Canadian seal hunters "bother" to adjust to the market demands they may just have a future.

          • Please explain what you mean by "less cruel."

            The hunt is carried out as humanely as the methods used in slaughter houses – and is certainly more humane than, say, bullfighting (Spain is a member of the EU).

            In fact, the hunt has actually become LESS humane AS A RESULT OF the "activists"; between the banning of the whitecoat hunt and the increase of hunting with rifles (due in part to the optics of clubbing), more wounded seals escape now than previously, when almost all kills were close-range kills with clubs.

            And of course, the starvation which would likely occur if humans (their chief predator) suddenly stopped hunting them and left their numbers to grow until they outstripped their food supply would also be more "humane", I suppose…

          • Keith,
            because there is a ban on whitecoats or bluebacks, doesn’t mean they aren’t still killed. They are. Observation footage is available for the DFO to see, since they don’t attend.

            Yes, slaughter houses and factory farming is inhumane also. The animals are fully conscious, and suffer greatly.

            With regards to the starvation issue, only 3% of harps seals diet is cod.  In fact they eat more cod predators (squid, etc) than they do cod.
            Less seals around to eat predators equals less cod.

            Once the balance is unnaturally thrown off, throwing off another portion of it will not solve anything.

    • Indigenous hunt and commercial seal hunt, two different things. Indigenous are exempt from EU ban.

  2. Good for the Canadian government.

    I love and seriously empathize with cute and fuzzy creatures as much as the next person, but seal populations are NOT in short supply, and they devour tonnes and tonnes of Atlantic fish stock annually; which ergo, can and WILL eventually have a dire and catastrophic affect upon Europe's pantries in not so short order.

    Seals are indigenous to Canada and are thriving to the tune of 8 – 9 million animals. So were kangaroos, and now (imported) rabbits in Australia. You don't see Europe and the fuzzy activists rallying against the growing sale of kangaroo meat or the rabbit slaughters to control and manage their damaging population numbers.

    There are a lot of very misquided facts regarding seals and seal management, but if you wish to acquire some, check this out: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/seal-phoque/index-

    • What does your thinking they are cute and fuzzy have to do with it?
      The indigenous hunt is different from the commercial seal hunt. They have their own annual quotas issued, and are not subject to the EU ban. So, your problem is solved. No one is protesting their hunt.

  3. It's about time

  4. I see the seal hunt as similar to animal farmers. Most of them are reasonably humane, but a small number are brutal DBs.

    Harvesting animals for any reason will never be perfect. You are harvesting animals.

    • I agree with you! With it comes to Seals, I believe it is more humane as they are allowed to roam the wild freely before they were killed, while farmed chickens, pigs, ducks, and other common source of meat products are not that lucky. The later, are virtually prisoners since birth with lifetime sentences (no chance of parole) – awaiting execution time.

      • Freedom is over-rated, Ariadne. With it comes constant fear of death from prediators and starvation. The life of a farm animal – not one in a cage – can be quite pleasant.

        • In a way, I do agree with you. How can one miss something one have not experienced. But who am I to say, when I have my freedom. Pardon my ignorance in animal husbandry, I thought chickens are packed in a coop with limited space for movement or roaming. As for pigs, it would be difficult to round them up if they are given freedom to roam (though, I really would like to see that). Don't you wonder whether animals, caged or not, know their friends, relatives, family, acquaintances are heading to a sinister fate and question why they are not coming back? You know those cries of bleeh-bleehs, and aaaahk-aaaahk may actually be cries of warning as "help, they are going to kill and eat us!" or "Save yourselves, the killers are here". We might not understand their kind of intelligence but they do have it, we are just unwilling to understand nor delve deeper cause it would open up a lot of worms. Hey I eat meat, and I support the north for making a living out of seals! I just wanted to make a point against the hypocrisy of animal rights activists and EU for the ban. Many would argue that a day of freedom is worth more than a lifetime of prison – no matter how 'indulged'. This would be a good debate, which is less humane life imprisonment of animals for slaughter or hunting free roaming animals. Do you think those activists will touch a debate , which will turn off many, if not most, of their financial contributors?

    • Ottawa_Centrist
      We would love to know where you get this information.
      Watch Farm to Fridge on Youtube. The majority of factory farms are run as seen in the undercover video.

  5. The only thing different about the seal hunt from slaughtering chicken and beef, etc is it's more visible.

    Good for Canada…stick it to the EU.

    Canada may get the last laugh, though, because the Chinese government has agreed to some seal product importation deals recently, and THAT particular market puts the EU to shame. That and the Chinese are FAR less squeamish about what they eat or how it's procured.

  6. Seal meat tastes funny.

    • Seal meat is like Scotch, or a good cigar…an acquired taste.

      • Can they be eaten like Sushi? Probably we can sell them to Japan?

        • Yeppers..Seal meat is eaten raw, I have never heard of it being used for Sushi, but I can't see why not,…..

    • Probably it needs certain spices to enhance or neutralize the taste. Why not challenge cooks all over the world how to prepare the best seal dish, and give monetary awards for the winners – a way to promote the product. I bet China already has a way to prepare them deliciously. Although I do not nor have eaten seals, nor have used fur and product s made from them, my diet do consist of chicken, pork, beef, turkey, fish, and lamb. I eat plenty of vegetable but has not gone completely vegetarian. Anyone who eats meat, please leave your hypocrisy behind the door.

      • You do not need to add salt, as it already has a sort of briney flavour ,(probably because of it's Ocean diet ) I had it raw and found it boreing….had it fried, with garlic, fresh ground black pepper and sauteed mushrooms, served on toast….extremely good ! I see you eat Lamb, If you like lamb you will love Venison…really healthy also……..

        • A hunter friend of ours, gave us venison sausages, it was yummy!

          • Thankyou for the Idea…. Deer Sausage and Perogies for Supper ! And to those of you that are annoyed for us getting off topic,, I sort of apologise , but as you can see we were just trying to promote the eating of Seal meat and Game meats as per it being a part of our Canadian heritage…….

          • Mmmmmmm….venison sausages. Any leftovers> :-)

          • Sorry Leo, I have a Grandaughter that can smell Venison ( or any game ) cooking right across Town…She calls them '' Bambi Candy…Sorry..she has not learned the politicaly correct stuff yet …..

        • NewfoundLanders have the best names for things…great food and drink too…..

  7. the government probably spends more money defending the seal hunt than it actually brings in ..meanwhile internationally it makes canadians look like some sort of backward nation

    • Like taking a strong stand in defense of the buggy whip industry. Which, if there were votes to be got by doing so, no doubt they would.

  8. If the mass hunting would have found less cruel methods to kill the seals the EU would most likely not have come with this Regulation in the first place. It may therefore be seen as a selfinflicted damange caused by a non change in hunting methods.

    Furthermore Canada has other market options than Europe. China seams to be a new potential market. Not sure the will last either, but if the Canadian seal hunters "bother" to adjust to the market demands they may just have a future.

  9. Interesting that it's referred to as a 'harvest' and a 'fishery' when seals are actually WILD and MAMMALS. They are hunted during the commercial seal hunt for fur – a non-essential item. Hunting seals is akin to hunting whales, tigers, elephants and other wildlife for the sake of profit. The only thing that it has in common with killing farm animals is the cruelty involved.

    • I don't think farmers are raising livestock to feed the rest of us out of the goodness of their hearts; I strongly suspect that the dirty word "profit" plays into that somehow.

      The hunt (and most NLers use "hunt" to describe the activity; we don't try to whitewash it) – unlike those others you mention – is carried out in such a way as to ensure the overall health of the herd. The fact that herd size is increasing speaks to the stewardship of the resource. Think of it, if you want a proper comparator, as the ultimate "free range" livestock.

      Humans are the seals' primary predator. We ARE part of the ecosystem, and taking us out of the equation will likely have a disastrous effect on it – esp. since polar bears (their next biggest predatory species) is seriously on the wane.

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