BRUSSELS, Belgium (8 Oct. 2012) – The European
Parliament’s Committee on Petitions debated a 20,000+ signature petition
submitted by Humane Society International, urging
MEPs to defend the EU’s trade ban on products from commercial seal hunts, in
place since 2010. Canada, which has an annual commercial seal slaughter that
has resulted in the deaths of more than two million seals in the past decade
alone, is challenging the EU ban at the World Trade Organisation. HSI and its
petitioners are extremely concerned that Canada’s challenge of the ban is
moving forward even as Canada attempts to negotiate a lucrative free trade
agreement with the European Union.
The Parliamentary debate on the agreement comes just two weeks after
Canada announced that it would be moving forward with its WTO challenge. Animal
suffering inherent in commercial sealing has led to worldwide condemnation and,
in addition to the EU, Belarus, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, the Russian
Federation, and the United States all maintain some form of trade restriction
on seal products.
“Citizens from across the Union are deeply disappointed that Canada is
continuing its baseless challenge against Europe’s historic and hard-fought
animal protection legislation,” said Joanna Swabe, Ph.D., HSI’s EU director.
“EU citizens and policy makers have the absolute right to reject the sale
of unethical seal products. It is vital that the European
Parliament thinks twice about ratifying a trade deal worth billions to Canada
whilst the Canadian government fails to respect our moral values and democratic
processes. The Parliament must hold firm and defend the will of Europeans on
this matter and the legislation that resulted from it.”
Canada’s commercial seal kill is the largest slaughter of marine mammals
in the world. Most of the animals killed are less than 3 months old. Since the
EU Regulation went into force, the number of harp seals slaughtered has
dramatically declined. In 2011, fewer than 38,000 harp seals were killed in Canada
compared with more than 350,000 five years previously.
"I am outraged by the Canadian government's continuing challenges
to the EU import ban on cruel seal slaughter products at the WTO," said British
Green MEP Keith Taylor. "The annual Canadian harp seal hunt is bloody
and brutal and Europe's citizens have made it perfectly clear that we do not
want commercial seal slaughter products sold in the EU market. I am proud to
defend Europe's ban against this baseless challenge and I urge my fellow policy
makers to stand firm with me."
As the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
is currently under negotiation, HSI urges the European Parliament to make
Canada’s withdrawal of its WTO challenge a condition of the ratification of the
The European Commission has consistently sought to separate these two
issues; however, the Parliament has recognised in a Resolution that Canada’s
WTO challenge runs counter to positive trade relations. Moreover,
a 2008 public opinion poll showed that 86 percent of Canadians supported the
right of the EU to prohibit seal product trade.
Environics Research (2008) Canadian Public Opinion on a European Trade Ban on Seal
Products and the Federal Government’s Support for Canada’s Commercial Seal Hunt.
photo: HSUS photo library Harp Seal ©2009
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