OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada threatened on Friday to take trade action against the European Union if it banned seal product imports.
Trade Minister Stockwell Day said unless the EU allowed an exception for humanely harvested seal products, it would launch a World Trade Organization action against any ban on trade in seal products.
“Despite scientific evidence that supports humane harvesting techniques, and testimony from Inuit communities as to the harmful effect of the proposed ban, the EU continues to push forward with a proposal that will damage the livelihood of coastal and Northern Canadians and their families,” Day said.
Canada is set a quota of 280,000 young harp seals for this year. A statement from Day said there are almost 6 million seals on Canada’s east coast, three times as many as in the 1970s.
The seals are hunted for their fur, meat and oil, rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. The European Union has been the main opponent of the seal hunt, with animal rights groups charging that the clubbing of the seals is inhumane.
Harp seals may not be hunted in Canada until they shed their white coats, at about two weeks of age, though they are not usually hunted until at least a week later. Animal rights activists say most are hunted between three weeks and three months.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Frank McGurty