Canadian Press
A typical Inuit seal hunt.

Inuit Furious as World Trade Organization Upholds European Union Seal Ban

ICTMN Staff
5/23/14

“For more than three years, our government has fought against the European Union’s unfair ban on seal products by elevating it to a World Trade Organization dispute resolution panel,” the three said. “Canada’s position has been that the eastern and northern seal harvests are humane, sustainable and well-regulated activities that provide an important source of food and income for coastal and Inuit communities.”

While pleased that the WTO appeal confirmed the “arbitrary” nature of the ban, the Canadian officials expressed concern with “the practical impact of the decision on the Atlantic and northern seal harvests.” ITK pointed out that the seal species in question are abundant and not endangered, and that the hunt is sustainable in the regions the animals are harvested in.

Images of seals being clubbed to death have circulated widely, giving the tradition a bad name internationally. Earlier this year comedian Ellen DeGeneres inflamed sentiments when funds raised by a selfie photo at the Oscars sent about $1.5 million to the Humane Society, which strongly opposes the seal hunt. ITK and other groups responded by taking “Sealfies,” photos of themselves with seal products, and posting them on the Internet.

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Indeed, the EU ban was found to be “necessary to protect public morals,” the WTO stated.

This is “an argument that Inuit find abhorrent,” ITK said. “The EU doesn’t deny that the ban is discriminatory, but argues that the discrimination is justified.”

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