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Ottawa plans to appeal ruling from World Trade Organization on EU seal ban


 

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Ottawa will appeal a World Trade Organization ruling that says aspects of Europe’s ban on imported seal products undermine fair trade but can be justified on “public moral concerns” for animal welfare.

While anti-sealing advocates say it’s a landmark victory that upholds the European Union embargo, the WTO points out inconsistencies that it wants fixed.

A dispute settlement panel reported Monday that exceptions under the ban for aboriginal hunts and those conducted to manage seal populations and protect fish stocks are not being fairly applied. As a consequence, those exemptions “accord imported seal products treatment less favourable” than for domestic and some other foreign products.

The panel recommends that the WTO ask the EU to bring such measures in line with its international trade commitments.

However, the report also finds that the ban “fulfils the objective of addressing the EU public moral concerns on seal welfare to a certain extent, and no alternative measure has been demonstrated to make an equivalent or greater contribution” to that goal.

The decision affects hunters in Atlantic outports and Inuit communities who say the embargo discriminates against Canadian seal products.

The federal government said in a statement that it will appeal.

“Canada remains steadfast in its position that the seal harvest is a humane, sustainable and well-regulated activity. Any views to the contrary are based on myths and misinformation, and the panel’s findings should be of concern to all WTO members.”

At issue was a challenge by Canada and Norway of the 28-member EU’s 2010 ban on the import and sale of seal fur, meat, blubber and other products.

Norway argued that the embargo unfairly exempts some seal products, including from some smaller-scale European hunts, but not those from its commercial hunt.

Ottawa has staunchly defended sealers, talked up the potential of other markets such as China, and deflected animal rights protests as it supported seal meat tastings for MPs and senators.

Still, the industry is a shadow of what it used to be.

The ban is hailed by animal welfare activists who say the hunt is a cruel and needless slaughter. It has also drawn Hollywood star power from the likes of actor Jude Law who want it upheld.

“This is a very important precedent that has been set which certainly supports the rights of nations around the world to ban seal product trade,” Rebecca Aldworth of Humane Society International Canada said Monday from Montreal.

“It also is an important precedent for animal welfare in general as it applies to global trade. So this is a landmark decision.”

The EU ban exempts seal products resulting from Inuit or other aboriginal hunts, along with those carried out solely to manage ocean resources.

But Terry Audla, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami representing about 55,000 Canadian Inuit, said those uneven exceptions mean little under a ban that essentially wipes out European markets.

“It’s a sustainable harvest,” he said Monday. “It’s not a detriment to the seal populations. And they’re basing it on public morals that, really, where do you draw the line? The poultry, pork and beef industry — they’re next.

“It’s a very maddening, saddening decision.”

The commercial seal hunt off Newfoundland last spring landed about 91,000 harp seals, up from 69,000 the year before but far short of the federal quota of 400,000.

About 900,000 seals are hunted around the world each year, according to the European Commission. Countries that have commercial hunts include Canada, Norway, Greenland and Namibia.

Countries with bans on imported seal products include the U.S., Mexico, Russia and Taiwan.

A European Union court last year upheld the EU embargo, saying it’s valid because it fairly harmonizes the EU market while protecting the economic and social interests of Inuit communities.


 

Ottawa plans to appeal ruling from World Trade Organization on EU seal ban

  1. Another lost cause Harp will go to the mat for

  2. Perhaps it might have been different if the seal hunters hadn’t insisted on clubbing the young seals to death instead of shooting them.

    • Say what? They haven’t clubbed seals in years. Not since the ban on whitecoats.

      Further, while the image of clubbing seals was not pretty, far fewer injured animals escaped to suffer (and likely go through a slow death) than happens now that they are shot instead.

      Finally – ever been to a slaughterhouse? Far worse than the hunt.

      • The last I heard the sealers fought for the right to use the hakapik and won. And yes there is a ban on whitecoats and you have to wait until they’re two weeks old now before they can be slaughtered. Big woof! Oh and yes I have been to a slaughterhouse. I worked on the kill floor of one in Calgary.

        • Then you ought to know that slaughterhouse practices are no more humane than the hunt. Unless you’ve been drinking the animal rights koolaid by the gallon.

          Animal rights groups protest the seal hunt primarily because baby seals look cute and can be used to raise great gobs of money.

          • I’ll take the PETA Koolaid for 600, Alex…

        • I’d be interested in seeing proof about the use of the hakkapik…

        • how is shooting them more humane than braining them with a hakapik?

          I just love how idiot PETA types (and Paul Watson types) think somehow it’s more humane for a Killer Whale to grab a seal and flop it around repeatedly breaking its neck after a few slams on the surface of the water, than it is for a braining of a “seal club” on a seal’s head.

  3. Yet another example of White Eurotrash Liberals oppressing Indigenous Peoples of another land.

    Yeah, I couldn’t keep a straight face either when I typed that, but on the other hand it’s completely true. Libs always whine about how we should respect other cultures. But when it comes to Inuit Culture, they can’t wait to pass moral judgment! Hypocrites.

    • Aboriginals are able to seal as usual…..what it stops is commercial sealing.

      • Their markets have also been seriously damaged by the ban, despite the loophole that supposedly allows them to market their goods.

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