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article imageCanada to challenge EU seal ban

By Kevin Jess     Feb 11, 2011 in World
Ottawa - The Harper government announced today it has formally challenged the European Union's ban on trade in Canadian seal products at the World Trade Organization.
The Honourable Gail Shea, Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, said in a press release, “The Government of Canada remains committed to defending Canada’s sealing industry. By moving ahead with this World Trade Organization challenge, we stand behind the thousands of Canadians in coastal and Northern communities who depend on the seal harvest to provide a livelihood for their families.”
The EU ban came into effect on August 20, 2010. Canada has been fighting the ban since its conception in 2009. According to the government press release the following steps had been taken to no avail.
On November 2, 2009, Canada took formal action against the European Union’s ban on seal products by requesting World Trade Organization consultations.
These consultations, which took place on December 15, 2009, failed to resolve the matter. The European Union then published additional measures on August 17, 2010, outlining how the ban and the exceptions to it would be implemented.
On August 19, 2010, one day before the ban came into effect, Canada announced that it would request the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel, as soon as possible, to rule on the European Union ban on seal products.
On October 18, 2010, Canada requested follow-up WTO consultations with the European Union on the additional measures published on August 17, which outlined how the European Union ban on seal products and the exceptions to it would be implemented.
The follow-up consultations were held on December 1, 2010. Again, the consultations failed to resolve the matter.
Not everyone is happy with today's decision to continue the fight against the ban.
Sheryl Fink, Director of the Seal Program for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said in a press release, "The government of Canada is wasting the hard earned money of Canadians to fight a battle that the citizens of the European Union have said is already lost. The EU does not want products from commercial seal hunts, period."
IFAW condemns the Canadian government for challenging the right of Europeans to say 'no' to products that stem from inhumane and unnecessary commercial seal hunts and for expecting Canadian taxpayer to foot the enormous bill, says the release.
Fink added, "The Canadian government should be investing money to help Atlantic Canadians by supporting industries that don't stain our international reputation, not wasting it on life-support for the dying seal hunt. IFAW and our supporters fought hard to achieve this ban. You can be sure we will be speaking out to defend it."
Canadian Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said she was "disappointed" the EU had not changed its position on the seal ban.
The Canadian House of Commons parliamentary committee on trade suggested this week the seal issue could hurt the chances that the Canada-European Union free trade agreement would be ratified, reported the National Post.
More about Seal hunt, seal industry, World trade organization, Canada, European union
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