Jul 27, 2009
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EU adopts seal product ban despite Canadian threat

Jul 27, 2009

BRUSSELS, July 27, 2009 (AFP) - European Union nations adopted Monday 27 July a ban on seal products from Canada, despite a threat from the Canadian government to take the matter to world trade's governing body.

In a decision taken without debate, EU foreign ministers adopted "a regulation setting out harmonised strict conditions for the placing on the market of seal products in the European Union".

They ruled that seal products cannot be marketed in the 27 EU nations.

"Placing on the market will only be permitted where the products result from hunts traditionally conducted by Inuit and other indigenous communities to ensure their subsistence," a statement said.

The move concerns products derived from all species of seals and includes fur skins, organs, meat, oil and blubber, which can be used in cosmetics and medicine.

It is due to take effect in the next European spring, once nations have implemented the legislation.

On Sunday 26 July, Canada appealed to the EU to reconsider.

"We are calling on the European Union to reconsider the proposed seal products trade ban," said a statement from International Trade Minister Stockwell Day and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea.

"Canada has clearly lived up to its obligations, and our position remains that any ban on a humanely conducted hunt such as Canada's is completely without cause," it said.

Ottawa argues that the ban should not target its seal products because it imposes regulations ensuring humane hunting inside its borders.

"Should the EU choose to adopt a seal products trade ban that does not contain an acceptable derogation for humanely-harvested seal products, Canada will defend its rights and interests under the relevant World Trade Organization agreements," the statement said.

Around 6,000 Canadians take part in seal hunting each year along the Atlantic coast.

The Canadian government authorizes the slaughter of 338,000 seals per season, and says the survival of the species is not in danger. The popularity of seal hunting has dropped along with a decline in demand for seal products.

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