Wednesday

4th May 2016

EU court upholds seal fur ban

  • Safe at last? EU court upholds seal fur ban (Photo: EUobserver)

The EU's three-year-old ban on seal fur will remain intact after the bloc's highest court threw out a legal challenge by the Canadian Inuit and the country's fur trade.

Unveiling its judgment on Thursday (25 April), the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) said the ban had been established to "harmonise the rules and thus prevent the disturbance of the internal market in seal products".

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

It added that a handful of EU countries had already put in place national restrictions on seal fur resulting in "fragmentation" of the internal market.

The case had been brought by Inuit community group, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), and the Fur Institute of Canada, with both organisations claiming that their livelihood depends on the trade.

In a statement following the ruling, Terry Audla, president of the ITK, accused the EU of displaying a "colonial, holier-than-thou attitude", adding that "their self-serving interests have not resulted in a fair or just process for Inuit."

The seal fur ban became an unlikely issue during the 2009 European elections following a sustained lobbying effort by MEPs and animal welfare charities.

Thousands of seal pups are slaughtered in any given hunting season, often being shot and then clubbed to death. Seal skins and fur are used for making luxury clothing.

Since the ban, seal hunting has all-but collapsed. Just 40,000 seals were killed in Canada during the commercial seal hunt in 2011, a big reduction from the 354,000 in 2006.

For their part, animal rights charities welcomed Thursday's ruling.

Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada, said she was "thrilled that the European General Court has rejected this shameful attempt by the commercial sealing industry to overturn the EU ban on seal product trade."

The ECJ case is the latest in a string of attempts by the Canadian authorities to scrap the ban.

Next week, the Canadian government will take the case to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva. A statement issued by Canada's conservative government said that "the Canadian government will continue to send a strong message that we are serious about defending our legitimate commercial seal harvest."

News in Brief

  1. German Pegida leader convicted of inciting hatred
  2. ECB expected to stop printing €500 notes
  3. Spain dissolves parliament for 26 June election
  4. Germany to legalise cannabis for medicinal use
  5. Hungary to hold migrant quota referendum by October
  6. France rejects TTIP in its current form, says Hollande
  7. New commander takes charge of US forces in Europe
  8. Spain issues arrest warrants for Russian officials

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Music CouncilRegister Now for the 6th European Forum on Music in Wroclaw, European Capital of Culture 2016
  2. Belgrade Security ForumJoin Our Team for the 6th Belgrade Security Forum. Apply Now! Deadline May 20
  3. European Roundtable of IndustrialistsCompanies Make Progress on Number of Women in Leadership Roles
  4. Counter BalanceParliament Gets Tough on Control EU Bank's Funds
  5. ICRCSyria: Aleppo on the Brink of Humanitarian Disaster
  6. CESIWorld Day For Health and Safety at Work: Public Sector Workers in The Focus
  7. EFABasque Peace Process-Arnaldo Otegi Visits the European Parliament
  8. EscardioChina Pays Price of Western Lifestyle With Soaring Childhood Obesity
  9. Centre Maurits CoppetiersThe Existence of a State is a Question of Fact, Not a Question of Law
  10. Martens CentreJoin Us at The Event: Prospects For EU Enlargement After 2019
  11. ICRCSyria: Aid for Over 120,000 People Arrives in Besieged Town Near Homs
  12. Counter BalanceHighway to Hell: European Money Fuelling Controversial Infrastructure Projects