At World Trade Organisation Public Briefing, evidence against commercial seal hunting is clear

On day one of the Public Hearing at the World Trade Organization, the European Commission fiercely defended the EU seal ban; making a stand that commercial seal hunts are "inherently" inhumane.

All together in one room at the WTO in Geneva, pro-sealers and seal protectors, trade lawyers and country representatives, listened first to Canada, then Norway try to defend the indefensible.

The two countries claimed that during the hunt, high animal protection standards are applied to alleviate the seals’ suffering, and that government inspectors keep a close watch.

So what could possibly go wrong?

A lot.

With an hour long video of the hunt, the EU illustrated what can and does go wrong.

With a difficult environment – one of high winds, low visibility and equally low temperatures – the conditions of the hunt are extremely challenging. Some seals are shot several times before they die. Some manage to escape and continue to suffer.

The EU population doesn’t want seal products from commercial hunts, with or without labels. This deep and longstanding concern of citizens was highlighted during the European Commission’s presentation.

Don Broom, professor of Animal Welfare, answered a key question with this statement:

“Is there a humane, acceptable method of killing seals? In closely controlled conditions on land, yes. If seals are in water or on ice? No.”

Another scientist stated on the EU defence paper that, “evidence is clear that during the seal hunt, unacceptable things are being done to animals...”

Canada and Norway want us to believe that they can introduce and enforce animal welfare standards while maintaining good control; that the killing of seals can be made acceptable.

But can they really achieve this?

It has been promised many times before and never been delivered.

Meanwhile, seals continue to suffer.


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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