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Fisheries and Aquaculture
August 19, 2010

Province Pleased With Progress to Overturn EU Seal Product Ban

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced today that it is pleased with the progress that has been achieved in delaying the European Union (EU) seal product ban. Today, the European Court of Justice announced that it has accepted a request to delay the implementation of the ban until October 7, in response to the legal intervention undertaken by the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), representing Canadian Inuit. The ban was to come into effect tomorrow, August 20. As well, the Government of Canada announced today that it is asking the World Trade Organization (WTO) to establish a panel to examine the lawfulness of a ban on Canadian seal products under WTO agreements.

"Our government is very pleased with the developments that have been announced on the EU ban of Canadian seal products," said the Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. "Our government has been approaching this issue from a variety of perspectives and it is encouraging to see progress on so many fronts at one time. This trade ban is completely outrageous and not based on any kind of scientific or conservation considerations. It has been clear for some time that the EU is in violation of international trade agreements and we are glad that the Federal Government is moving further to address this."

The EU ban is the subject of a legal case with the ITK, which challenges the constitutionality of the proposed regulation. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador provided $25,000 in initial financial support toward this effort. Other jurisdictions have since agreed to provide funding as well.

The Provincial Government has been pressing the Federal Government to take trade action against the EU since April 2007 and was pleased when the Government of Canada decided to pursue trade action after the vote to ratify the EU ban on Canadian seal products in July 2009.

As recently as August 9, Minister Jackman sent a letter to the federal ministers of Foreign Affairs and Fisheries and Oceans seeking an update on the trade action the Government of Canada had undertaken with WTO.

"The Williams Government is continuing to support the sealing industry and approach this significant challenge on a number of different fronts," said Minister Jackman. "WTO action can only be taken by a national government. We are pleased that the Federal Government is pursuing it. As an example of our current initiatives, in September I will travel to Moscow for a fur show to further develop markets for our seal products. I am following this up with meetings in Budapest with CIC, an international group for the sustainable use of animals. Our government was the first North American government to become a member of this highly credible group. I will also meet with the ITK legal team in Brussels regarding future strategies and funding requirements. Our government has an ongoing program of support to the Canadian Sealers Association for increased training of sealers. As well, we are in the fifth year of a communications campaign to provide information to the misinformed on the humaneness, sustainability and viability of the Canadian sealing industry."

The Canadian seal harvest is important for the management of seal herds which now stand at three times the level of population when compared to the 1970s. This is problematic from the perspective of conserving Canadian fish stocks. It has been estimated that Canadian harp seals consume approximately 10 times the total global harvest of wild fish.

"Our Provincial Government will continue to make the sealing harvest a priority issue," said Minister Jackman. "We will work toward the development of new markets for Canadian seal products and with the ITK on the legal challenge. However, it is also important that the Federal Government continue to use whatever legal recourse it has at its disposal to support the legal, sustainable and humane harvest of seals."

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Media contact:
Lori Lee Oates
Director of Communications
Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
709-729-3733, 690-8403 

2010 08 19                                                    4:50 p.m.

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