VIDEO: World Trade Organisation challenge begins as the commercial seal hunt ends

Warning: video contains graphic images of sealing activity.

The first set of hearings on the WTO challenge concerning the EU regulations on the sale of seal products between the European Union, Canada, and Norway are over.

The questions have been asked, the accusations made, and the positions defended – in some cases better than others.

Now, each delegation must answer to a long list of questions presented to them by the panel. Back in Canada, it’s heads down as we work to provide factual information on seal hunting for the European Commission to help defend their case. 

The timelines are incredibly tight and there is much to be done.

Whether or not the panel’s decision is favourable to Canada and Norway, or to the EU, it seems unlikely that European markets for seal products will emerge any time soon. 

By all indications, the Canadian commercial seal hunt is struggling to survive, with the industry saying it will likely request another government bailout yet again.  In fact, Canadian sealers abandoned the commercial grey seal hunt entirely this year, due to a lack of markets.

In just 5 weeks the parties to the WTO challenge will meet again.  Between now and then, the slaughter of seal pups off the east coast of Canada will begin. Or will it? 

Canadian sealers abandoned the grey seal hunt this year due to the lack of demand for seal products. And while the commercial harp seal hunt is likely to proceed, it remains to be seen how many fishermen participate.

Even with a $2 million bailout from the government of Newfoundland and Labrador last year, only 430 of the estimated 11,000 licenced Newfoundland sealers bothered to take part in the slaughter.

While it remains to be seen what the next few weeks will bring for the seals, the International Fund for Animal Welfare will continue our campaign to end this senseless seal slaughter once and for all, and to support the European Commission in their defence of the EU ban against the challenge by Canada and Norway.


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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Sheryl Fink, Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Sonja Van Tichelen, Regional Director, European Union
Regional Director, European Union