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OTTAWA, Nov. 25, 2013 – Canada’s sealing community today condemned a report issued by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Panel that upholds a current ban on seal products throughout the European Union.
Stating that the WTO Dispute Settlement Panel ruling will have far reaching implications for Canada’s domestic sealing community, the Seals and Sealing Network is confident the Government of Canada will continue to defend the seal hunt and will appeal the decision and address the ongoing European ban. In its decision, a WTO panel that reviewed the ban in Europe on seal products said that it is legal, however they did not find that the ban is correct.
“The WTO panel decision is hypocritical given that Canada has as high a standard as anywhere in the world for hunting wild animals – seals included. Yet European seals, wild boar and deer are hunted without any rules governing animal welfare or ecosystem management,” said Eldred Woodford, Chair of the Canadian Sealers Association. “What’s next? Beef? Pigs? Chicken?”
The decision by the WTO panel to reaffirm the European ban on seal products could have broad and unintended impacts on other trade sectors in Canada such as agriculture and fishing where the morality of animal production practices could be called into question. Furthermore, the WTO panel ruling is discriminatory to countries such asCanada that treat seals as marketable resources rather than pests that are disposed of out of convenience.
Aaju Peter, a lawyer and activist who is committed to preserving Inuit culture, says that the seal community is part of the indigenous way of life in Canada and is now under threat by the ongoing ban of seal products in countries that comprise the European Union.
“I have been trying to communicate to the Europeans for many years that these bans will hurt the Inuit. They are not listening! Any ban on any seal product anywhere hurts Inuit everywhere,” said Ms. Peter.
“In Canada this ‘small industry’ is a legal business and is a necessary contributor to the long term viability of small coastal communities and economies,” said Dion Dakins, Chair of the Seals and Sealing Network. “The majority of seal populations around the world are more abundant than ever and wild caught fisheries are challenged. Collectively we need to seek to find solutions and not bring problems, like this EU ban. Seal management is done in virtually every country that has wild ocean fisheries, including in the European Union.”
About the Seals and Sealing Network:
The Seals and Sealing Network is a national non-profit organization promoting sustainable and wise use principles is committed to the conservation and respectful harvesting of the world’s seal species through sound scientific management and internationally accepted sustainable use practices. The Seals and Sealing Network is comprised of Conservationists, Inuit, Veterinarians, Health care practitioners, Government, and Industry representatives. For more information, please go to or www.sealsandsealing.net
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