The EU Seal Products Ban and the Challenge at the WTO – Ruling of the WTO Panel MEDIA ADVISORY

Thursday, 21 November, 2013

On February 18, 2012, Canada and Norway challenged the European Union’s seal products trade restrictions at the World Trade Organization (WTO). On Monday, November 25, 2013 the WTO panel in Geneva is expected to make its ruling on the challenge public. The finding are subject to appeal and the parties have 60 days to file an appeal

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) was established in 1969 in Canada in opposition to the commercial seal hunt. IFAW was instrumental in the victory to protect seals from commercial hunts when the European Union implemented restrictions on the trade in seal products. IFAW was consulted by the EU as a key stakeholder on the development of the implementing regulations of the ban, which came into force on August 20, 2010 and applies to seal products that are produced in the EU and to imported products. The regulation does not apply to seal products which come from subsistence hunts of Inuit and indigenous communities. It also contains exceptions for goods derived from seals for personal and non-commercial use and for goods derived from seals hunted for the sustainable management of marine resources and placed on the market on a not-for-profit basis and for non-commercial reasons.

IFAW has worked to support the European Commission, providing data and evidence in support of the trade ban. IFAW, together with other NGOs, submitted an Amicus Brief that compiled 40 years of factual and scientific evidence on the commercial seal hunt. This Amicus Brief was referred to by the European Commission in their defense of the EU seal ban.


About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Editors: High quality B-Roll and photos of the commercial seal hunt in Canada are available.

We have filmed several short films in relation to the WTO dispute:

IFAW’s Sheryl Fink introduces the WTO dispute over the EU seal regulation

Geneva-based WTO Lawyer Hannes Hannes Schloemann provides legal insight into the WTO case

MEP David Martin reflects on his experience in the long campaign to the EU seal trade regulation.

How Belgium led the EU to legislate the trade in seal products

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
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Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
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Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
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Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime