World Trade Organisation seal ban ruling breaks positive ground for animal welfare

The IFAW EU team at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on the day of the historic vote approving the EU seal regulation.Today, we are celebrating the World Trade Organisation (WTO) panel finding that the EU seal trade regulation, which prevents commercially hunted seal products from being sold in the EU, is WTO compliant.

This is big news for the animal welfare movement, as the decision marks a precedent in WTO deliberations, whereby the question of public moral concerns over animal welfare are found to be a valid reason to ban product imports.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) European Regional Director, Sonja Van Tichelen, said the panel report is “a victory for seals, animal welfare and Europeans.”

And everyone here at IFAW couldn’t agree more.

While not an absolute victory, the parties have 60 days to launch their (expected) appeal, certainly the decision makes clear thinking and attitudes towards animals and animal welfare are evolving: and further, it makes clear that the WTO recognizes citizens have the right to say "no" to products from cruel and unsustainable sources.

Below we’ve compiled IFAW responses to common myths about the seal hunt and coverage from the last 12 months of the Canadian challenge to the EU Seal Import Ban at the WTO.

Together, they provide a timely and succinct overview of the cruelty inherent in the Canadian commercial seal hunt, the importance of the EU ban on products from that hunt, and the significance of this WTO ruling. 

With your ongoing support, our campaign teams will continue to fight for stronger animal welfare rulings like this one around the world.


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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