IFAW condemns Canadian and Norwegian WTO Challenge on EU ban of seal products


(London – 25 September 2012) – Canada and Norway have formally requested panellists to be appointed for their joint challenge to the EU trade ban of commercial seal products at the World Trade Organization (WTO). This latest attempt to overthrow the EU legislation was met with frustration and determination today by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

“Canada and Norway must respect the right of Europeans to say ‘no’ to a bloody, cruel and unnecessary industry. This WTO challenge on behalf of a dying industry will cost millions and could threaten a trade deal worth billions to Canadian and European citizens,” said Barbara Slee, IFAW seals campaigner. “The EU seal ban is the only way the European public can be assured they are not buying products coming from cruel commercial seal hunts. Canada is arrogantly trying to shove clubbed seals onto the European market which is unacceptable to Europeans.”

The EU has previously made it clear that it will "vigorously defend" the values of European citizens in the face of a WTO challenge. The seal trade ban legislation was drafted with a view to ensuring it complies with all of the EU's international obligations.

“Obviously we’ve been expecting this move for quite some time. The European Commission considers the regulation to be fully consistent with its WTO obligations and its rights to defend the moral values held by European citizens,” continued Slee. “IFAW has continued to document the hunt since the initial ban and we continue to find unacceptable examples of cruelty and inhumane killing.”

A compilation video of examples of cruelty from the 2011 Canadian commercial seal hunt can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj4c1eBblQ0. Since the ban came into effect a compelling video of cruelty infractions has also come to light in Norway. The footage was taken in 2009 by a Norwegian government sealing inspector who subsequently faced threats for actually reporting the infractions.

“Claims from the Norwegian and Canadian governments that their hunts are humane and sustainable would be laughable were the truth not so terrible,” concluded Slee.


Notes to Editors –

For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Sterling on +44 (0)20 7587 6708, mobile +44 (0)7917 507717 or email csterling@ifaw.org.

High resolution images from the Canadian commercial seal hunt, the May 5th, 2009 vote in Strasbourg when MEPs voted in favour of the EU seal ban and images of Harp seals are available at www.ifawimages.com

The ban on the trade in seal products entered into force on 20 November 2009.
This announcement follows the publication of the new legislation in the EU’s Official Journal last Saturday. The Regulation 1007/2009 is set to enter into force 20 days following publication. In practical terms full enforcement only began on 20 August 2010.

The EU ban on seal products is targeted at commercial seal hunts. The largest three commercial seal hunts globally are in Canada, Norway and Namibia.

There is an exemption in the EU legislation for Inuit and subsistence hunting of seals.

Canada and Norway both signalled prior to the commencement of the EU ban that they would enter a challenge at the WTO. Formal consultations at the WTO began in November 2009.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis 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 www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter