IFAW condemns Canadian challenge to EU seal trade ban

Wednesday, 4 November, 2009
(London – November 4, 2009) – Canada’s formal request for consultations on the EU trade ban of commercial seal products at the World Trade Organisation – an attempt to overthrow the new legislation – has been met with derision by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org).

The EU ban was voted through earlier this year after a long-running campaign by IFAW and other animal welfare groups calling for an end to the cruelty of Canada’s commercial seal hunt. The largest marine mammal hunt in the world, the hunt has traditionally seen up to a third of a million seals a year clubbed or shot, primarily to provide luxury fur items for the fashion industry.

IFAW believes the EU ban will close a vital market for the hunt, and is now urging the Canadian government to end the hunt once and for all.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “The EU seal ban is the only way the European public can be assured they are not buying the products of cruel commercial seal hunts. Canada is arrogantly trying to shove dead seals into markets where they are simply not wanted. The current Canadian government would rather risk international condemnation than a few seats in their parliament.”

The EU has previously made it clear that it will ‘vigorously defend’ the values of EU citizens in the face of a WTO challenge. The seal trade ban was written in anticipation of a WTO challenge and is expected to comply fully with the EU’s international obligations.

Mr Marsland added: “Despite every recent veterinary report on Canada’s commercial seal slaughter citing examples of ongoing, unacceptable cruelty; the fact that most of Canada’s major trading partners want no part in this bloody and unnecessary slaughter; and despite polls that show a majority of Canadians oppose the commercial seal hunt the Canadian government continues to pursue a political game.”

Statistics from a Department of Fisheries and Oceans report show that the landed value of the 2009 seal hunt was the lowest in recent memory. However, despite this, Canadian politicians seem willing to spend more than £5.5 million in a desperate attempt to save a dying industry worth one tenth of that amount.

International condemnation isn’t the only thing the Canadian government is willing to risk to secure this WTO challenge. Shockingly, the Canadian government is refusing to ban the importation of cat and dog fur out of fear that such a move would jeopardise the politically motivated WTO challenge against the EU’s seal trade ban. There is already a full ban on the importation of dog and cat fur in the EU.

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