Last year the European Commission proposed banning imports of pelts and other products from seals that were killed in an inhumane manner. While their motive is noble, Norway feels it may discourage the sustainable harvest of other resources and is threatening to challenge the ban if the EU passes it.
Reuters reports that Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store penned a letter to the EU’s Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton stating: “In our view, the proposal cannot be justified under the WTO (World Trade Organisation). A ban on trade in seal products will set a dangerous precedent in the matter of sustainable harvesting of renewable resources.”
Canada is also siding with the Norwegians over the proposed ban, which is being discussed by the 27 member states of the EU in the European Parliament before it is voted on. Canada says it will also challenge the EU’s ban if passed, even though neither Norway nor Canada are members of the EU.
“The Norwegian government has decided to initiate consultations under the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding, should the EU take a decision along the lines that now seems to be developing,” Store wrote.
Canada, Greenland and Namibia take nearly 60 percent of the 900,000 seals hunted every year, with the rest killed by Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the USA. Humanitarian guidelines suggest seals be shot or clubbed in a single blow to ensure they are dead before being bled and skinned. Sloppy culling often results in the seal waking up during the skinning process, a cruel fate indeed.