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Europeans Stand Together to Protect Seals from the Inhumanity of Commercial Hunting

Sonja Van Tichelen
Published: Sunday 17 February 2013
The IFAW team will be watching closely to ensure that all our efforts and the protection of seals will not be sacrificed on the altar of free trade.
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The campaign to end the Canadian commercial seal hunt  began in 1969 with the founding of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).  The images of seals being inhumanely killed and sometimes skinned alive mobilised significant support for banning seal hunt products from being imported into the EU.

It remains a fine example of EU citizens and EU decision-makers clearly speaking out for animal welfare.

The result was the 2009 seal regulation banning the import of products from inherently cruel commercial seal hunts.

Europeans are not alone in their opposition to cruel seal products as Russia, the US, Mexico, Taiwan and others all have similar legislation.

Defending the indefensible at WTO

Instead of helping those who work in an anachronistic industry to adapt to the 21st century, the government of Canada teamed up with Norway to attack this EU law at the World Trade Organization (WTO), the institution in charge of regulating international trade.

They claim that the EU was contravening trade rules by introducing the Regulation and that the seal hunt is humane.

But the WTO is not just about trade, it recognises that sometimes ethics, values, and protecting both animals and people are more important than money.

The WTO rules allow trade restrictions in protection of the “public morality”.

A panel of trade experts will be hearing Canada and Norway’s complaint and the European Commission defense from February 18th to 20th in Geneva, Switzerland.

The IFAW team will be watching closely to ensure that all our efforts and the protection of seals will not be sacrificed on the altar of free trade.

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ABOUT Sonja Van Tichelen

Sonja leads the Brussels European Union office and together with a team of skilled animal welfare advocates, works with EU institutions and countries to ensure the European Union maintains and develops strong pro- welfare and conservation policies. Appointed in September 2012, Sonja explores new opportunities to promote IFAW’s global programs and aims with EU policy makers.

Boris Badenov's picture

As a Canadian I have a

As a Canadian I have a problem with this.
The facts remain that the EU (Portugal and Spain mostly) commercially fished the Canadian Grand Banks to near extinction (dredge netting destroyed the spawning grounds) and now they (The EU) have the audacity to condemn the seal harvest.

The harp seals are now the problem with the recovery of the grand bank cod fishery.
The problem only gets worst when you see that the seals are a major food source for polar bears.

Europeans can be so self righteous it sickens me, stay home and forget about the free trade agreement!

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