Harper Government Responds to WTO Decision on EU Ban on Seal Products

May 22, 2014 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, today issued the following statement:

“For more than three years, our government has fought against the European Union’s unfair ban on seal products by elevating it to a World Trade Organization dispute resolution panel. Canada’s position has been that the eastern and northern seal harvests are humane, sustainable and well-regulated activities that provide an important source of food and income for coastal and Inuit communities. The ban on seal products adopted in the European Union was a political decision that has no basis in fact or science.

“Last year, the WTO panel confirmed Canada’s long-standing position that the EU ban is discriminatory and treats Canadian seal products unfairly. Unfortunately, the panel also took the view that such a ban can be justified due to some of the public’s concerns regarding seal harvesting. Our government was proud to launch an appeal of that decision and stand up for Canadian sealers and vigorously defend the interests of Canada’s Inuit and Indigenous communities.

“We are pleased that today’s decision by the WTO Appellate Body confirms what we have said all along, namely that the EU’s seal regime is arbitrarily and unjustifiably applied and is therefore inconsistent with the EU’s obligations. The WTO Appellate Body confirmed that the EU measure violates its international obligations and has ordered the EU to bring itself into compliance. We are currently reviewing the practical impact of the decision on the Atlantic and northern seal harvests.

“Our government has been rock solid in its support for Canadian sealers.

“We expect that the European Union will comply with the letter and spirit of the decision, and we will be closely following how it brings itself into compliance. Our government will continue to stand up for trade fairness for this important, traditional way of life.”

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Shannon Gutoskie
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
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Sophie Doucet
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Frank Stanek
Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Ottawa, Ontario

Ted Laking
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of the Environment

Media Relations
Environment Canada