Sealers association dejected; warns herd will grow and consume more fish
The World Trade Organization (WTO) appeal board decision to uphold the European Unionâs ban on seal products is a joke, says the Canadian Sealers Association.
âWeâre very, very disappointed,ââsaid Frank Pinhorn, its executive director.
The decision was filed Thursday afternoon.
Fred Henderson loads his truck with seal pelts in Noddy Bay on Newfoundlandâs northern peninsula in 2004. â Telegram file photo
âIt makes the whole justice system in Europe look like a joke to me. Thereâs no foundation for it in law, no foundation for it in science, no foundation for it in animal welfare. Weâve done everything in terms of regulating the East Coast seal harvest â training and certifying our sealers, improving quality-related aspects of the industry â and for them to make a decision like that in such a frivolous manner leaves a lot to be desired,ââPinhorn told The Telegram after the decision was announced.
The EUâs ban on seal products was upheld last year by the WTO, but Canada appealed and was represented in Geneva in March by Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who defended the sealing industry during hearings.
Animal welfare groups were quick to react to the news Thursday and called it a historic decision.
âThe World Trade Organization not only upheld the right of the EU to ban trade products from the commercial seal hunt, but has also set a precedent, saying animal welfare is a legitimate public concern, a public morality, and it can be the basis for legislation prohibiting trade,ââsaid Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of the Humane Society International/Canada.
During the past five years, she said, more than 1.6 million seals have been saved from the commercial seal hunt and the group is thrilled it will save millions more.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW said itâs a wonderful day for seals.
âThe governments of Canada and Norway used every technical argument they could to try to force products from a cruel and unnecessary commercial seal hunts on Europeans. But reason and compassion have triumphed. This is a great day for animal welfare, and the WTO is to be congratulated on this ruling,â said Sheryl Fink, IFAWâs Canadian wildlife programs director, in a news release.
While the animal welfare groups are celebrating that theyâre saving seals, Pinhorn points out that seals, which number in the millions, eat a lot of fish.
âIs this the end of rural Canada as we know it because they all depend upon the ocean for a living? Are we going to let the herd go from the current â all three species combined we have about 10 million â are we satisfied to let them go to 12 or 15 (million)? Because thatâs where theyâre going,ââhe said.
In this yearâs hunt, Pinhorn said, sealers managed to get only 50,000 animals of the 400,000 quota.
âAs a result, the herd is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger,ââhe said.
âThe federal government told us when they were negotiating the free trade agreement with Europe they were going to deal with the seal industry after. Well, after is here,ââsaid Pinhorn.
He said a meeting was already scheduled with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans regarding the seal resource, âso Iâm sure that is going to trigger a lot of interesting discussions.â
The International Fund for Animal Welfare says itâs delighted the World Trade Organization (WTO) appellate body has largely upheld the European Union's ban on seal products.
The IFAW said in a news release today, in an earlier ruling, the WTO found that moral considerations, including concerns about animal welfare, can justify trade restrictions.
âThis is a wonderful day for seals," says Sheryl Fink, IFAW's Canadian wildlife programs director. "The governments of Canada and Norway used every technical argument they could to try to force products from a cruel and unnecessary commercial seal hunts on Europeans. But reason and compassion have triumphed. This is a great day for animal welfare, and the WTO is to be congratulated on this ruling."
The IFAW said it applauds the WTO for reiterating the importance of public morality in international trade, and the European Union for taking this principled stand against the "inhumane slaughter" of seals.
"The ban is the result of decades of grassroots opposition to commercial seal hunting, and backed by the most rigorous scientific and socio-economic examination of commercial seal hunts around the world ever conducted. The positive recognition of animal welfare as a legitimate public morals concern affirms the relevance of the WTO in a changing world," the IFAW release states.