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Canada-EU Summit  : The seal embargo is a “dispute”, not a priority” /></p>
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<p class=Seal hunting on the ice floe in Newfoundland. A European ban on the trade in seal products has existed since 2009, to the great dismay of Canadian hunters.

  • Patrick Butler (View profile )Patrick Butler

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The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau recognizes that the European ban on seal products represents a “dispute that we have” with the European Union, but his ambassador to the bloc of 27 European countries emphasizes that this embargo is not the priority of the moment.

Visiting Saint John, Newfoundland and Labrador, for a summit with the leaders of the bloc of 27 European countries, Justin Trudeau explained that the thorny issue of the ban on the seal trade represents a complex discussion but that his government continues to defend this important economic activity [not only] for Newfoundland and Labrador but also in other regions.

Several members of the sealing industry had criticized the decision not to make this embargo a priority topic at the Canada-European Union summit held Thursday and Friday in Saint John, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Stéphane Dion, Canada's special envoy to the European Union, recalls that this summit was rather focused on issues such as the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. Orient, the energy transition and the broader economic relationship between Canada and Europe.

Throughout all of this, [the embargo on seal products] has not been the center of the thing, he said in the scrum press by also answering questions on the aid sent to Ukraine as well as on Canada's participation in the Horizon Europe research and development program.

I think [the seal hunt] is an important subject. But what I just said is extremely important [too], he added.

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From left: European Council President Charles Michel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met Friday in St. John's, Newfoundland. and Labrador.

The sealing industry, mainly present in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut, has never recovered from the European embargo, in force since 2009, based on ethical concerns.

Hunters and processors acknowledge that the blood of animals on the ice creates shocking images, but they maintain that the hunting is carried out humanely. The animal does not suffer since, according to them, it dies instantly when slaughtered.

Fifteen years after the European Union adopted this ban, landings in Eastern Canada have reached 40,000 seals in 2023. This is less than a quarter of the landings in 2008.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen argues that the current EU ban strikes a fair balance since it includes an exemption that allows the trade in seal products hunted by indigenous communities.

To my knowledge, this system works very well, she said, a statement questioned by Doug Chiasson, executive director of the Fur Institute of Canada.

We have seen very few skins and products that have been exported to the European Union under the exemption, he says, highlighting the heavy paperwork required to certify products indigenous people.

In addition, there are only two organizations recognized by the European Union as being able to certify that products come from indigenous hunters. It is the government of the territory of Nunavut and the government of the Northwest Territories. There is no recognized organization on the east coast.

Justin Trudeau says that if Canada and the European Union do not #x27;don't hear about the seal hunt, this dispute does not harm the overall relationship, which he considers very fruitful.

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