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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Green MEPs welcome European Parliament defence of seal product ban

Green MEPs Jean Lambert and Keith Taylor have today supported a European Parliament resolution which calls on the Canadian government to drop its fight against the EU ban on seal products.

The controversial trade was outlawed in the EU in 2009 following an historic vote which saw the majority of MEPs vote in favour of closing Europe’s markets to products made from commercially slaughtered seals. The Canadian government has since taken formal action against the sanction at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), arguing that the vote is a clear violation of EU trade obligations.

Today’s amendment, part of a wide-ranging resolution on EU-Canada trade relations, calls on Canada to withdraw its WTO challenge prior to the ratification of the bilateral Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which will set out the framework for a closer economic partnership [1].

During 2010 an estimated 67,327 harp seals were slaughtered during Canada’s annual hunt, each one clubbed and shot under cruel conditions primarily for their fur [2].  This year, the Canadian government has sanctioned the slaughter of 400,000 seals [3].  Canadian legal experts have estimated the cost of the WTO challenge at $10 million, more than seven times the landed value of last year’s hunt [4].

Speaking after the vote, Jean said: “The EU ban on the barbaric trade of seal products was a real victory for the global campaign against animal cruelty.  By closing the door on fur and other seal products, Parliament took meaningful action to save hundreds of thousands of seals from being cruelly killed.

“The Canadian government’s WTO challenge flies in the face of European animal welfare law and also acts as a direct attack on the democratic values of the majority of Europeans and Canadians who support the ban on seal products [5].  The European Parliament must continue to take a firm stance on this cruel practice in any Europe-Canada trade negotiations.”

Keith Taylor MEP, a member of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, said: “During the International Trade Committee’s debates on the proposed new EU-Canada trade agreement I have repeatedly highlighted Canada’s barbaric practice of seal culling. The EU ban on seal products reflects the views of Europeans who do not want to play a part in this cruel industry. It is high time the Canadian government accepted that the ban should not be overturned by the WTO and stopped trying to challenge the democratic decision of the European Parliament.”

Notes to Editor

1. The full resolution can be read here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B7-2011-0344&language=EN
2. For information on Canada’s annual seal hunt, please visit: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/seal-phoque/faq-eng.htm#_5
3. For information on the 2011 seal hunt quota, please visit: http://e-activist.com/ea-campaign/clientcampaign.do?ea.client.id=15&ea.campaign.id=9830
4. http://www.hsi.org/world/canada/news/releases/2011/04/trade_talks_screen_041211.html
5. National polling in 2007 and 2008 confirms the overwhelming majority of Canadians support the right of the EU to ban seal product trade: http://www.hsi.org/world/canada/news/releases/2011/04/trade_talks_screen_041211.html