EU enacts seal product ban – with exceptions
To Canadian disappointment, a ban on the importation of seal products into the European Union was enacted yesterday. However, the European Commission stated that the ban does not apply to groups that have already filed court appeals, including 16 Inuit groups from Canada.
According to a report by the Associated Press, indigenous peoples of Greenland and Canada have argued that the European Union seal import ban disproportionately affects their traditional way of life, yet the same reports cite EU data stating that only one percent of Canadian seal imports into the EU were from Inuit sources.
Canadian hunters killed an average of 300,000 harp seals annually before the industry began experiencing dramatic drops in catches in recent years. The country’s East Coast sealing industry has struggled amid the global recession, vocal animal rights protests and the European ban.
The ban already contains exemptions for seal products resulting from traditional indigenous subsistence hunting. The complaint from Inuit groups is that the ban nonetheless reduces the market for seal products.
Despite efforts by the Canadian government to boost the annual number of seals killed in the hunt, last season’s results fell far short of the 330,000 seal target due to a lack of buyers and low sea ice levels from November to May.
From an AFP article:
Most of Canada’s 6000 sealers stayed home, unable to find buyers, for their catch or stymied by a lack of ice floes on the Gulf of St Lawrence, which usually hosts hordes of seals.