EU Court Upholds Seal Ban

A harp seal pup on the ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence © IFAW/S. Cook
Thursday, 25 April, 2013

The European General Court today upheld the EU trade regulation on seal products. In a strongly-worded and crystal clear decision the court dismissed any concerns that either the EU seal trade regulation, or its implementation, lacked a legal basis.

“We are very pleased with the General Court’s decision. European citizens have been clear in their rejection of commercial seal products, and we are relieved that the closure of the EU market to non-Inuit commercial seal products has been upheld by the European General Court” said Sheryl Fink, Director of IFAW’s Seal Campaign.

“IFAW will continue to support the EU Commission’s defense of the EU seal trade regulation at the WTO. Canada simply cannot continue to force unwanted seal products on the rest of the world” Fink added.

The second hearing of the challenge by Norway and Canada to the EU seal trade regulation is scheduled for April 29 and 30, 2013.

The European General Court made a very strong argument in favour of the necessity regulation in its two page decision:

The EU legislature took the view that, in the absence of action at EU level, obstacles to trade would arise. It therefore took action in order to harmonise the rules and thus prevent the disturbance of the internal market in seal products.

The General Court confirms that the objective of the basic regulation, which is the improvement of the conditions of functioning of the internal market, taking into account the protection of animal welfare, cannot be satisfactorily achieved by action undertaken only in the Member States and requires action at EU level.

“The commercial seal hunt is an obsolete industry” said Fink, “It’s time for the Canadian government to stop wasting tax dollars to support it. Canada needs to move forward, protect seals and help sealers out of this industry.”


Notes and further reading:

Full judgment:

The original plea appeared here in the Official Journal of the EU:

High resolution photo and video of commercial sealing are available from

IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) was established in 1969 and its founding campaign was in opposition to Canada’s commercial seal hunt. IFAW has more than 40 years of experience raising awareness, documenting and opposing the cruel commercial hunts for seals in Canada and around the world.


For further information or to schedule interviews, please contact:

Michelle Cliffe, IFAW Canada

Telephone: +1 647 986 4329


Twitter: @IFAWCanada or @MichelleCliffe

Post a comment

Press Contact

Michelle Cliffe, IFAW Canada
Contact mobile:
+1 647 986 4329
Contact email:


Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Sheryl Fink, Campaign Director, Canadian Wildlife
Campaign Director, Canadian Wildlife
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations