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Canada appeals ban on seal products at World Trade Organization hearing

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Canada is attempting to appeal the European Union’s 2009 ban on the trade of seal products at a hearing hosted by the World Trade Organization in Geneva. Accompanied by delegates from Norway, Canada's Environment Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, will be presenting the case to the WTO in hopes of having the ban overturned. The hearings began on Monday, March 17, 2014 and will continue through Wednesday. This is the two countries second attempt at challenging the ban. In 2010, the first challenge was issued and later debated during a hearing in 2013. The WTO upheld the ban in its ruling on November 25, 2013 citing that it was “justifiable on public morality grounds”.

The EU also challenged the Canada and Norway appeals and representatives from The Humane Society International are present in order to document the debate. According to a statement issued in an email communication by Rebecca Aldworth, Executive Director of Humane Society International/Canada:

“As a Canadian, I am deeply dismayed to see my government attacking the EU ban on products of commercial seal hunts. Canadians overwhelming support the right of Europeans to rid their market of the products of this cruel and outdated slaughter. It is high time that my government responds to Canadian opinion and moves my country beyond commercial sealing for good.”

Over that past five years, public opinion has steadily been in support of banning the annual Canadian seal hunt. In addition, “global markets for seal products are closing fast. In 2009, the European Union joined the United States, Mexico and Croatia in prohibiting trade in products of commercial seal hunts. In 2011, the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus prohibited trade in harp seal fur, and in 2013, Taiwan ended its trade in all marine mammal products (including seal products).”

The WTO is expected to issue their ruling on the appeal sometime in April.

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