November 2009: Dispute between the EU and seal-exporting countries
Seals are protected by several international instruments, such as the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, signed in London in 1972, and Part IV of the marine mammal regulations in Canadian law. This protection specifies a quota for hunting seals to maintain a good ecological level and that only the seal products coming from a proper hunt can be commercialized.
Canada and Norway felt aggrieved by the European regulation and brought this dispute ahead of the World Trade Organization. Other countries have given their point of view, including Argentina, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Iceland, Japan, Mexico, Namibia, Russia, and the United States.
On November 2, 2009, Canada requested consultations with the European Commission about the regulation and on November 5, Norway requested a consultation as well. According to Canada, the EU's ban on the trade of seal products leads to a decline in hunting, increasing the population of seals, thus damaging their fishery resources.