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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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime