Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Should the EU ban on the import of seal products stand?

Date:
April 30, 2014
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
Next month, following an appeal by Canada and Norway to overturn the EU ban on the import of seal products, the World Trade Organization is expected to announce whether the 2013 decision will be upheld. One academic whose research on the animal welfare of the seal hunt has been used in the case, explains why the ban should stand.

Baby harp seal pup.
Credit: Vladimir Melnik / Fotolia

Next month, following an appeal by Canada and Norway to overturn the EU ban on the import of seal products, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is expected to announce whether the 2013 decision will be upheld. In an editorial article, a University of Bristol academic, whose research on the animal welfare of the seal hunt has been used in the case, explains why the ban should stand.

The article by Dr Andy Butterworth, Senior Lecturer in Animal Sciences at the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences and an official observer of the seal hunt is published in the journal Nature.

EU legislation, in place since 2009, intended to ban the import of seal products. However, the implementation of this has been slowed pending a decision by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on whether the ban would be permitted under WTO rules, which must reconcile contrasting statements from international agreements that are almost 70 years old. One forbids "arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination" between countries. Another says that nations can act in a way that is "necessary to protect public morals."

Last November, the WTO agreed that the ban on marketing of seal products could be legitimately implemented on the basis of protection of 'public morals'. This was a historic decision, the first time that public morals combined with animal welfare concerns had been used to create a marketing restriction for a specific animal product.

The EU ban was introduced on the grounds of public morals, and science and scientific evidence was used to inform the judgements made on the moral questions raised by the seal hunt. The scientific evidence, by researchers including Dr Butterworth, indicated that some shot seals took a considerable period of time to die, and that some injured animals were 'unchecked' for periods of several minutes before being finally killed by clubbing. The post mortems that the researchers carried out on the ice indicated that some seals had multiple shooting, clubbing and hooking injuries -- and that some had swallowed their own fresh blood -- suggesting that they were alive for a period following the first contact with the hunter.

Dr Butterworth in his article argues the appeal from Canada and Norway does not challenge the "poor welfare outcomes" of the seals, which the WTO last year judged sufficient to justify the European ban. Instead, the appeal concentrates on trade issues and restrictions.

Dr Andy Butterworth said: "As a veterinary scientist, I consider the hunt to present real and significant welfare concerns. The available scientific evidence supports that opinion. But science, of course, is only one of the factors at play. If what I have witnessed being done to a young seal was done to a horse or a dog, there is little doubt that it would be labelled as cruel."

The annual Canadian commercial seal hunt is the world's largest hunt of marine mammals and by the end of the 2014 hunt, a quota of some 400,000 young seals could have been taken. The seal pups, which are only a few weeks old, are prized for their skins and for the omega-3-rich oil used in food supplements: products that are shipped around the world.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andy Butterworth. The moral problem with commercial seal hunting. Nature, 2014; 509 (7498): 9 DOI: 10.1038/509009a

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Should the EU ban on the import of seal products stand?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430133104.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2014, April 30). Should the EU ban on the import of seal products stand?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430133104.htm
University of Bristol. "Should the EU ban on the import of seal products stand?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430133104.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins