Seal ban temporarily suspended

24 August 2010Markets

Emneord Seal banEUCanadaInuit

The EU trade ban on seal products has been suspended by the European Court of Justice in order to give various Inuit organizations more time to present their case. The Canadian Prime Minister calls the ban 'discriminatory'.

inuit_nyhedsbrevQuite unusually, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has partially suspended the ban on trade in seal products, which should have come into force on 20 August this year. The ECJ has halted the implementation of the ban to enable Inuit organizations from Greenland and Canada a better chance to voice their case. The suspension only applies to groups who lodged a case with the EJC.

- In our view, the seal ban is both illegal and immoral. The decision is clear evidence that that the EU court is very much aware of the seriousness and principled nature of the fundamental objections of Inuit and other plaintiffs to this very unjust law, says president of the Canadian Inuit organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITC). She is supported by the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who says the ban is "completely unfair and a discriminatory treatment of a Canadian industry that employs people of modest means."

The EU ban, which was adopted last summer, has been met by a storm of protests from especially Canada. Besides a series of legal lawsuits from various Inuit associations, the issue is also pending before the World Trade Organization WTO, because the Canadians believe that the EU violates rules on free trade. Canadians also argue that the EU has been misinformed about the realities of seal hunting.

- It's a disgrace that they (have been) treated this way in some countries based on no facts or information whatsoever, "says Stephen Harper, while the Canadian Fisheries Minister Gail Shea says that the EU parliament has sided with radical animal rights lobbyists. The EU ban contains an exception for Inuit skins, but the Inuit groups find the exception to be useless, because the general prohibition has completely shattered the basis for trade. Many families in the Arctic fringe areas is dependent on income from seal hunting, says Inuit organizations.

The year long campaign against the seal hunting has mainly been conducted by the world's richest animal rights organization, the Humane Society of the United States, through its International arm, the Humane Society International.

On 7 September the ECJ will decide of the suspension will be prolonged.