World Trade Organization upholds a European Union ban on seal products

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami says the World Trade Organization's decision to uphold a European Union ban on seal products is outrageous.

ITK, which represents 55,000 Inuit Canadians, says the EU ban is discriminatory against Inuit.

Although the ban exempts Inuit hunters, ITK president Terry Audla says it's not working because the exemption was never negotiated directly with Inuit.

"They are taking away the market, and what do Inuit have left?" Audla said. "It's something that we have always been arguing, that the market can't be taken away, that Inuit have the right as indigenous hunters to be able to put food on the table." 

The president of the Canadian Sealing Association, Eldred Woodfordagrees that the exemption is useless.

"How the seal market works, is that the Inuit only harvest a small number of animals and provides a small number of products," Woodford said. "Unless you have a decent commercial hunt elsewhere to provide the needed marketing of those products, the exemption will be useless, even to Inuit hunters."

The World Trade Organization report says since the ban came into effect in 2010, only Inuit in Greenland have applied for the exemption.

While the panel found that the ban violated the international trade agreement, it was valid because of a controversial public morals clause.

Aaju Peter, an Inuit activist and a member of the Sealing Network, said that saddened her.

"To me what is really immoral is having Inuit communities go hungry, the hunter's feeding the communities themselves," she said.

Yukon MP calls ban discriminatory

In parliament today, Yukon MP Ryan Leef said the battle isn't over.

"The European Union has placed a discriminatory ban against seal products. Our government will continue to fight for the Canadian seal hunt in whatever arena possible," Leef said.

"We are proud to protect a traditional, sustainable and historic way of life for Canadian sealers across this great country."

The Canadian government says it will take advantage of a 60-day window in which to appeal the World Trade Organization's decision.

Source : CBC



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