The World Trade Organization, based in the Swiss city, is set to begin public hearings into the issue on Monday just ahead of the annual spring hunt of seals in the Canadian province of Newfoundland.
Anderson, a Canadian citizen and honorary director of PETA, the animal rights group, fired off a letter on Wednesday to the WTO’s legal affairs department calling on the body to uphold the seal-fur ban.
“As a proud Canadian, I’m saddened that Canada is trying to use the WTO to delay the inevitable demise of the cruel commercial seal trade by challenging the EU’s ban on seal-fur imports,” Anderson says in her letter, released by PETA.
The 45-year-old TV and movie actress pointed out that the US, Mexico and Taiwan, as well as Russia — which was importing 95 percent of Canadian seal pelts — “have all banned seal fur and will not tolerate this annual slaughter.”
The harvest of seals as “inherently cruel,” she said.
“Sealers shoot and bash in the heads of helpless seals when they are just weeks old.”
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian department regulating the seal hunt, has approved a method of killing the seals, endorsed by veterinary experts, that it says ensures the animals die humanely.
However, this conclusion has been disputed by other scientists.
The seal harvest has long been defended as a way of life for fishermen in Canada’s poorest province.
The sealers depend on Norway for their biggest market.
But Anderson said the Canadian government “should devise a practical exit strategy: a government buyout of the sealing industry, which would benefit both seals and sealers.”
Anderson noted that the commercial slaughter of seals had nothing to do with aboriginal practices and involved “no tribal communities”.
The Inuit First Nation conduct a subsistence hunt for adults seals in another part of Canada that is protected by Canadian laws and an exemption from the EU ban, she said.
Anderson said she became active in animal issues “well before my Baywatch days” and is now active with PETA.
The actress is following in the footsteps of another famous actress — France’s Brigitte Bardot — who has campaigned against the seal hunt and otherwise used her fame to promote animal rights.