April 3, 2009 (1:45 p.m. EDT)
No. 87

Canada Pledges WTO Action if EU Bans Seal Products

The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, said today that the Government of Canada will launch a World Trade Organization (WTO) action if the European Union (EU) imposes a ban on trade in seal products.

The European Union is considering a proposed EU-wide ban on the trade in seal products that may not contain an acceptable derogation for humanely harvested seal products.

“Despite scientific evidence that supports humane harvesting techniques, and testimony from Inuit communities as to the harmful effect of the proposed ban, the EU continues to push forward with a proposal that will damage the livelihood of coastal and Northern Canadians and their families,” said Minister Day.

The Minister emphasized that Canada goes to great lengths to ensure a humane, well-regulated and sustainable seal hunt. Canada’s regulations also prohibit the harvesting of whitecoats. He sees no justification for any ban on trade in seal products.

“There is no justification for any ban on trade in seal products. If the European ban does not contain an acceptable derogation for humanely harvested seal products, Canada will defend its rights and interests under the relevant WTO agreements. We are confident that the WTO will find that such a measure violates the obligations of the EU under the WTO.”

Sealing is a significant source of income in many small, isolated coastal communities throughout Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the North, and represents as much as 35 percent of a sealer’s annual income. Today, there are almost 6 million seals on the East Coast of Canada, which is more than three times what there was in the 1970s.

The Canadian government will take all necessary measures to defend the rights of Canadian sealers to provide a livelihood for their families through our lawful, sustainable and humane hunt.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Mélisa Leclerc
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-6186

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000