A (World Trade Organization) WTO appeal panel has upheld a decision that the European Union’s ban on the import of seal pelts, oil and meat is justified on moral grounds…The ruling, released Thursday in Geneva by the WTO’s Appellate Body, is one more blow to an industry that has been dying for years as a result of a successful campaign by animal-rights activists to convince international buyers that the Canadian seal hunt is inhumane.
The appeal body reversed some minor portions of a WTO panel decision, but agreed that the EU’s ban on seal products “is necessary to protect public morals” as spelled out in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The appeal body agreed with the earlier panel decision that the ban on seal pelts imposed by the EU in 2010 undermines the principles of fair trade, but is justified because it “fulfills the objective of addressing EU public moral concerns on seal welfare.”
Canada and Norway had argued that the ruling sets a dangerous precedent because trade decisions were being made on the basis of morality rather than conservation and science. The federal Conservative government, and the two opposition parties, agree that the seal hunt, which is largely based in Newfoundland, is humane, sustainable and well-regulated…. The sealers say Canada has the highest standards for animal-welfare practices of any hunt in the world. The animal-rights groups, on the other hand, point to reports by veterinary and zoology experts who say the clubbing and shooting of seals in Canada is inhumane and should be prohibited.
The Canadian government set the quota for the seal slaughter this year at 400,000. But it is estimated that fewer than 55,000 of the animals have been killed by hunters as the season nears an end. Rebecca Aldworth, the executive director of Humane Society International/Canada, said… “I think it’s clear that the sealing industry is already over. The only question is whether the Canadian government will continue to keep it on artificial life support in the form of government subsidies, or whether it will invest in a one-time buyout of the commercial sealing industry.
Excerpts from GLORIA GALLOWAY, Canada loses bid to block European ban on seal products, Globe and Mail, May 22, 2014