Germany's Bundestag makes an important decision for the protection of seals

IFAW-Staff celebrated in 2009 the resolution of the EU-Parliament to ban all trade in seal products in Europe

Tonight the German Bundestag showed unusual consensus in their decision to have Germany insist on a pan-European embargo on seal products in any case. They make this resolution independent of the WTO’s (World Trade Organization) decision about Norway’s and Canada’s objection concerning this matter.

The EU seal trade embargo was decided upon in 2009, and it had been initiated – amongst others – by national trade bans in Belgium and The Netherlands but also by strong pressure of the German Federal Government on the EU Commission.

This embargo was a very important step against the unspeakably cruel seal hunt which takes place especially in Canada but also in Norway and Namibia.

The embargo had the effect of saving about 80% less harp seals from being killed during the past couple of years.

Also, then, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) was working together with a number of EU governments intensively in order to promote this important law.

The EU’s decision against trade with seal products reflects the 26 member states’ demand: they do not think the Canadian seal hunt is justifiable anymore, and they want to ban seal products from the European markets – the public morality against the commercial practice is one of many reasons.

Norway and Canada think that the EU does not have the right to issue an embargo based on moral grounds.

This is why those two states have filed a suit with the WTO against the EU in order to overturn this law.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare thinks Europeans have to preserve an ethically motivated autonomy of decision. That’s why it is a priority of our work to keep this embargo in place.

One way of doing this is to ensure this we have an intensive co-operation with the Members of the Bundestag, Members of the EU Commission and politicians of other EU countries.  

No matter what the outcome will be, even if commercial interests should be prized above ethics and morals, the EU has different possibilities for handling such a court ruling.

The Bundestag’s decision now clearly demands that the German Federal Government and the EU stick to the ban. 

This is not only a step – it is a broad jump in the direction of keeping up the embargo.


For more information about IFAW's fight against seal hunting, please visit our campaign page.

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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