(St. John’s, NL, Dec. 5, 2013) Mr. Speaker, I rise in this Honourable House to discuss the recent World Trade Organization ruling on Canada and Norway’s action against the European Union seal ban.

The Provincial Government was disappointed when the World Trade Organization, or WTO, decided to uphold this ban using “public moral concerns” as the justification. We believe this was an unfair ruling, as the Canadian seal harvest is one of the best managed harvests of animals anywhere in the world. Our provincial seal industry has increased the level of training sealers receive to ensure a humane harvest, and many internationally-respected veterinarians have reviewed the Canadian harvest and confirmed it is humane.

Despite this wrongful ban, the provincial sealing industry continues to grow thanks to the dedication of industry players, and the ongoing support of the Provincial Government. More than 90,000 seals were harvested during the 2013 season, which represents an increase of approximately 30 per cent over the 69,000 seals that were harvested in 2012.

The Provincial Government has fostered this success by providing a $3.6 million inventory financing loan to Carino Processing in 2012, and again in 2013. The industry fully repaid the 2012 loan, with interest, and is on its way to fully repaying this year’s loan. This government has also provided almost $40,000 recently to support an international branding and marketing strategy for seal products produced by Carino Processing. Tomorrow, I will join the Honourable Gail Shea, federal Fisheries Minister, to make another announcement in support of the industry.

Mr. Speaker, the production value of sealing has been as high as $55 million annually, which shows the economic benefits this industry can create in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. This government deeply values the positive impact the sealing industry has on our vibrant and growing economy.  We also appreciate its significance to our culture and history. In light of this, I call on all Honourable Members to support the Federal Government’s appeal of the WTO’s unjust decision to uphold this ban – a ban that the WTO admits violates international trade agreements.

Working together with the industry and our federal counterparts, we will continue to foster the success of an industry that has been a proud part of our past, and will continue to be a source of valuable income for rural families and communities in the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

2013 12 05                              2:05 p.m.