As reported earlier , the European Union has decided to ban the import of seal skin and other seal products hailing from commercial seal hunting.

This has upset Canadian seal hunters since Italy and Denmark, both members of the European Union, are two major importers of seal products. Italy imports most of their seal skins from Russia, but Denmark has always been an important trade partner for North American seal hunters, partly due to Denmark’s traditional connection to Greenland.

According to a statement from Canadian Trade Minister Stockwell Day, the federal government is now getting ready to move in with an appeal against the ban, which they see as a clear breach of WTO regulation.

We’ll go to the WTO because it’s clear in WTO regulations that if one country wants to ban the products of another, it has to have clear scientific, medically acceptable reasons for doing so, and this EU ban is not based on hard science,” Day said.

Earless seal %28Puerto Madryn%2C Argentina%29 Canada takes European seal ban to WTO

The Canadin government believes that Canada deserves an exemption from the import ban since it follows internationally accepted guidelines regarding seal hunting, e.g. by prohibiting the clubbing of baby seals while they still have their white coats.

Day claims that the European ban is based on “people’s feelings” rather than hard facts, and says that the trade action will proceed unless the European Union Parliament exempts Canada and other countries that he said practise humane and sustainable seal hunting. According to Day, seal hunt proponents erroneously portray seal hunting as it was 40 years ago.

The suggested seal import ban must still be approved by individual European governments before becoming law but can, if passed, come into effect as early as next year. If the is approved, it will cause an annual 2 million USD loss for the Canadian industry.

Canadian Fisheries Minister Gail Shea agrees supports the government’s planned trade action.

When you live in small coastal communities, sometimes there’s not many opportunities to make some additional money,” she said. We have a number of families who make up to 35% of their annual income from the seal hunt. So yes, I do think it’s very important.”

As reported earlier, the proposed European seal import ban will contain some exemptions and seal products resulting from hunts traditionally conducted by Inuit and other indigenous communities can still be imported to and marketed in European Union countries even if the ban is approved. Products that result from hunting conducted for the purpose of sustainable management of marine resources on a non-profit basis will also be allowed, and individual travellers will be permitted to bring seal products to the European Union as long as the import is of an occasional nature and consists exclusively of goods for the personal use of the traveller.