Proposed EU Ban on Seal Products
Fisheries and Aquaculture
April 14, 2008
The following statement was issued by the Honourable Tom Rideout, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. It was also read in the House of Assembly:
Proposed EU Ban on Seal Products
I rise in this honourable House today to address an issue that is extremely important to coastal communities throughout this province and indeed across this country. That is the issue of the proposed ban on sealing products, from Canada, going into the European Union.I am pleased to report that my honourable colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources, just recently returned from delivering our message to the member states of the European Union.
Eighty-five per cent of the Canadian harp seal harvest happens off the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador. Sealers have stated that up to 35 per cent of their annual income comes from the sealing industry. The proposed ban of the European Union is unjust and it threatens the livelihood of these people.
This trade action under consideration by the EU is being done with total disregard for the livelihood of over 6,000 individuals in this province. Indeed, the 1983 European Economic Community ban on importation of whitecoats and bluebacks reduced the total Inuit income in Labrador alone by one-third. Clearly, this action can have serious negative impacts on people who are depending on this industry.
Our government is also pleased to work with the Government of Nunavut on this important matter and truly Canadian issue.
The Canadian seal harvest is one of the best managed harvests of animals anywhere in the world. It is humane, it is sustainable and it produces a wide variety of sealing products such as seal meat, clothing and seal oil capsules.
This is an issue that is being decided by people who are heavily influenced by misinformed and misguided anti-sealing groups. I would also take this opportunity to remind our colleagues in the European Union that when these groups are finished with seals, they will likely move on to the harvest of deer and boar.
In April of last year, I personally wrote the federal minister of international trade requesting that the Government of Canada initiate trade action under the World Trade Organization on the grounds that a ban on seal products by the European Union would violate European international trade obligations under the WTO.
Our government was extremely pleased when the Government of Canada announced in September of last year that they would move forward with a formal complaint against the European Union to the WTO.
This is a time that requires leadership on the part of our Federal Government. We will continue to press the Government of Canada to take immediate and swift trade action against any member of the European Union that chooses to pass trade bans against Canadian sealing products.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention that our government is extremely pleased that the Government of Canada took action to protect the safety and livelihoods of Canadian sealers over this past weekend, by boarding and seizing the Farley Mowat vessel, and arresting its captain and chief officer for violations against Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations. As a country we have stood by for too long while anti-sealing groups disrupt sealers as they go about making a living in a well-regulated, humane and sustainable manner.