Newfoundland and Labrador Calls on Federal Government to Reveal Plan to Prevent EU Ban on Canadian Seal Products
Fisheries and Aquaculture
April 28, 2008
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador today called on the Federal Government and the Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, to let the people of Canada know their plan to prevent the proposed European Union (EU) ban on the importation of Canadian seal products. The Provincial Government would also like for the Federal Government and regional minister to let Canadian citizens know their position on banning the hakapik.”The proposed ban being considered by the EU is unjust and it threatens the livelihood of the people of rural and costal communities who depend on the seal harvest,” said the Honourable Tom Rideout, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. “I am calling upon the Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Loyola Hearn to put forward his plan to prevent this from occurring. I am also asking the Federal Government if any counter trade bans have been contemplated. If Canadian products are to be banned unjustly due to the lobbying efforts of activists, then we must step up as a country and let the EU know this is not acceptable. For years, our fishery has been traded away to foreign interests, and now is the time to say enough is enough. The people who risk their lives in this industry, just to put food on their family’s tables deserve better.”
In April of last year, Minister Rideout wrote the federal Minister of International Trade requesting that the Government of Canada initiate trade action under the World Trade Organization (WTO), on the grounds that a ban on seal products by the EU would violate European international trade obligations under the WTO. In April 2007, the Federal Government announced that it would move forward with a formal complaint against the EU.
Approximately 85 per cent of the Canadian seal harvest happens off the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador and sealers have stated that up to 35 per cent of their annual income is from the sealing industry. There are approximately 6,000 sealers in the province. The 1983 European Economic Community ban on the importation of whitecoats and bluebacks reduced the total Inuit income in Labrador alone by one-third.
“Clearly, a ban on seal products will have a serious negative impact on many residents of this province,” said Minister Rideout. “The Federal Government and our regional minister should be coming to the table with a plan for how this possible injustice will be prevented at an international level. While we are pleased that the Federal Government is willing to make a complaint to the WTO, clearly it is not enough. A full plan is needed to address this issue strategically across international institutions and countries.”
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, together with the Government of Nunavut, have also called for a ban on the use of the hakapik as a means to possibly prevent the proposed European ban from being implemented.
“When our delegation traveled to Europe to educate people about the seal harvest, it was repeatedly made very clear that the hakapik is detrimental to our efforts to avoid the proposed ban,” said Minister Rideout. “It is now time for the Federal Government to let the province know their position on banning the hakapik. Our government continues to support the use of the hakapik as a safety tool for sealers, but given only 5% of sealers in this province use the tool for harvesting animals, let’s do away with it as a propaganda tool for anti-sealing activists once and for all.”
Lori Lee Oates
Director of Communications
Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture