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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

EU ban on seal fur upheld on ‘moral grounds’

A seal

AN EU ban on the sale of seal fur has been upheld by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) – the body responsible for overseeing international trade disputes.

After a long campaign led by Green MEPs in the European Parliament, the EU outlawed the import of all products using derived from commercially slaughtered seals in 2009.

The ban led to a WTO challenge by Norway and Canada on the grounds that it violated international free trade commitments.

But yesterday the WTO issued a ground-breaking final report on the case, upholding the ban – and the EU’s right to restrict imports on ‘moral grounds’.
The news was welcomed by Green Euro-MPs Jean Lambert (London) and Keith Taylor (South-East England).

Ms Lambert said: “This is truly a ground-breaking ruling, establishing clearly the right of the EU to set, democratically, its own moral standards.

“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.

“But the Canadian and Norwegian WTO challenge was a direct attack on European animal welfare law and the democratic values of the majority of Europeans – and Canadians – who support the ban, and I am delighted the challenge has failed.”

Mr Taylor, a member of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, added: “During the International Trade Committee’s debates on the recently-agreed 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. I hope the Canadian government will now accept the ban and stop trying to challenge the democratic decision of the European Parliament.

“If Canada and Norway want to continue cruelly slaughtering seals, it is a sad decision but it is their decision, just as it is the EU’s right to decide to ban these products.”

During 2012 an estimated 69,000 harp seals were slaughtered during Canada’s annual hunt, each one clubbed and shot under cruel conditions primarily for their fur.

More information on the Canadian seal hunt can be found here.