Decision to ban import of seal products celebrated by RSPCA

The RSPCA has a hailed an historic decision by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to uphold a ban on the import of items that are a product of the cruel seal hunting industry.

In 2010 an EU ban prohibited the trade in products such as seal pelts, oil and meat on moral grounds, including those from Canada, Namibia and Norway.seal clubbing1.jpg

At the time animal welfare groups including the  RSPCA, WSPA and Eurogroup argued that  commercial seal hunting where the mammals are clubbed or shot for their fur, is both 'cruel and unnecessary'.

Following the decision, the Canadian and Norwegian governments challenged the ban, but yesterday (Thursday 22 May) the WTO made the final decision to uphold the ruling.

But the EU's four-year-old ban on seal fur will now remain in place after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rejected an appeal by Canada and Norway – setting a precedent that animal welfare supersedes the right to trade.

“This is an historic decision – it is the first time that a moral defence has been upheld in entirety and that in itself is game changing,” said David Bowles, head of RSPCA public affairs.

“Thousands of seal pups are killed during the hunting season, often being shot or  clubbed to death. It is barbaric.

“The RSPCA is delighted the ban has been upheld and this has such wide ramifications across the globe in the issues of animal welfare.

"We hope this landmark ruling will now give governments greater confidence to pursue and agree measure to improve animal welfare including trade bans.”



Notes for editors

?     —  About 900,000 seals are hunted around the world each year, according to the European Commission.

?     —  —  Countries with bans on imported seal products include the U.S., Mexico, Russia and Taiwan.

?     This ban currently does not affect sealing by Inuit and other indigenous peoples but the EU will be now forced to review on exemptions from the ban, after the WTO ruled that the exemption discriminated against commercial hunts in Canada and Norway.


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