Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

Canada to Take EU to WTO Over Importation Ban on Seal Products

Canada's International Trade Minister, Stockwell Day, has announced that Canada will go to the World Trade Organization to appeal a decision by the European Union banning imports of seal products. The importation ban was approved without debate on July 27, 2009 at a meeting of EU foreign ministers. The import ban will apply to all products and processed goods derived from seals, including their skins – which are used to make fur coats, bags and adorn clothing – as well as meat, oil blubber, organs and seal oil, which is used in some omega-3 pills.

The issue is being discussed as whether the manner in which the seal hunt is conducted is humane. Minister Day has announced that:

β€œThe Government of Canada is gravely concerned that the European Union is continuing to push for a ban on seal products without any consideration of an exemption for Canada's humane and sustainable seal hunt."

This debate will likely lead to a larger discussion about what is and what is not humane treatment in the context of killing animals, fish, birds, etc. for food and other purposes. This debate will likely focus on morals and one country (or group of countries as the case may be) having a different opinion that another country over morality and the protection of life. The effects of this case will be far reaching.

Finally, this dispute raises the question as to whether the Canada-EU CETA discussions are off to a difficult start.


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