Harper Government Continues to Stand Up for Canadian Seal Industry

(No. 61 - February 11, 2011 - 9 a.m. ET) The Harper government today announced that it has taken formal action at the World Trade Organization against the European Union’s ban on trade in Canadian seal products.

“The Government of Canada remains committed to defending Canada’s sealing industry,” said the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. “By moving ahead with this World Trade Organization challenge, we stand behind the thousands of Canadians in coastal and Northern communities who depend on the seal harvest to provide a livelihood for their families.”

“Taking the European Union to the World Trade Organization is important for the Inuit,” said the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. “Inuit who live in isolated communities where economic opportunities are very limited depend on the seal hunt to maintain their culture and quality of life. I hope this process will cast meaningful light on this unjust and unnecessary legislation.”

“Our government stands up for the interests of Canada’s Inuit and Indigenous communities,” said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon. “The European Union’s exemption for trade in traditional Inuit and Aboriginal seal products is not effective, particularly in the face of a larger market collapse. Our government is taking this case to the World Trade Organization to protect the right of Inuit people to sell products from their traditional, sustainable seal hunt.”

“We will continue to defend Canada’s commercial seal hunt and protect Canada’s access to foreign markets, including the European Union,” said Steven Blaney, Member of Parliament for Lévis-Bellechasse. “Our government will also continue to encourage and support the development of new markets for seal products both at home and abroad.”

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

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

Nancy Bishay
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Gail Shea
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
613-992-3474

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
613-990-7537

Michelle-Jamali Paquette
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable John Duncan
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
819-997-0002

Media Relations
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
819-953-1160

Jenny Van Alstyne
Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Media Enquiries
Health Canada
613-957-2983

 


Backgrounder – Request for a WTO Panel: European Union Ban on Trade in Seal Products

On November 2, 2009, Canada took formal action against the European Union’s ban on seal products by requesting World Trade Organization consultations.

These consultations, which took place on December 15, 2009, failed to resolve the matter. The European Union then published additional measures on August 17, 2010, outlining how the ban and the exceptions to it would be implemented. 

On August 19, 2010, one day before the ban came into effect, Canada announced that it would request the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel, as soon as possible, to rule on the European Union ban on seal products.

On October 18, 2010, Canada requested follow-up WTO consultations with the European Union on the additional measures published on August 17, which outlined how the European Union ban on seal products and the exceptions to it would be implemented.

The follow-up consultations were held on December 1, 2010. Again, the consultations failed to resolve the matter.

Today, Canada announced that it would be taking action against the European Union ban on seal products by requesting the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel on this issue.