The World Trade Organization has ruled that while the European Union ban on imported seal products does undermine fair trade, those restrictions can be justified on “public moral concerns” for animal welfare.
Wayde George handles pelts at the seal tannery in Dildo. It’s a labour-intensive process that takes more than three weeks to fully cure and tan a sealskin. —Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
It’s a partial victory for advocates both for and against Canada’s commercial seal hunt.
The report from a WTO dispute settlement panel affects hunters in Atlantic outports and Inuit communities who say the embargo discriminates against Canadian seal products.
The ban is hailed by animal welfare activists and has drawn Hollywood star power from the likes of actor Jude Law who want it upheld.
Canada and Norway challenged the EU’s three-year-old ban, saying it unfairly blocks products from their commercial seal hunts.
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Ottawa says commercial hunts are humane and sustainable, while critics say they’re a cruel and needless slaughter.
The EU ban exempts seal products resulting from Inuit or other aboriginal hunts, along with those carried out solely to manage ocean resources.
There are 60 days to appeal the WTO decision.