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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Potential New Beginning for Canadian Seal Harvest

The following are excerpts from articles presented by the CBC and the Toronto Star.

Inuit groups sue EU over seal trade ban
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
CBC News

Inuit groups in Canada and Greenland are taking the European Union to court over its import ban on products derived from the seal hunt.

The lawsuit, announced Wednesday in Ottawa, aims to overturn the ban, which was adopted by 27 European nations last year and blocks seal products from entering those countries.


Cultural bias alleged

The EU's trade ban includes a partial exemption for seal products from Inuit sealers, but the Inuit groups say the terms of that exemption are not clear.

"Inuit have been hunting seals and sustaining themselves for food, clothing, and trade for many generations. No objective and fair-minded person can conclude that seals are under genuine conservation threat or that Inuit hunting activities are less humane than those practised by hunting communities all over the world, including hunters in Europe," Inuit Tapririit Kanatami president Mary Simon said Wednesday in a release.

"At best this is cultural bias, although it could be described in even harsher terms."

Simon also accused EU legislators of adopting what she called a "legally defective" ban, despite "advance warning by their own lawyers."

The Inuit lawsuit is separate from the Canadian government's challenge of the EU ban to the World Trade Organization.

China gives Canada its approval of seal
Wednesday January 13, 2010
Toronto Star

BEIJING–The fur didn't fly here Tuesday. Instead, it strode down a Beijing catwalk without interruption.

The Canadian seal and fur industry brought its fashion designs to a premier Beijing fashion show yesterday, winning warm applause.


Canada was effectively thumbing its nose at the European Union Tuesday, the organization that banned the importation of Canadian seal products last year.

Instead, Canada has set about to woo the Chinese to open its gates to Canadian seal meat.

Shunned by Brussels, Ottawa believes China will do nicely as a replacement market and has tremendous potential, especially with its 1.3 billion people.

China already buys seal oil and fur from Canada. Meat would seem the next natural step.

And success might be at hand.

"We're very optimistic we'll be able to export seal meat into China," Canadian Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said here, following the fashion show featuring Canadian designs of sealskin and fur.

As she spoke she wore a ribbon of seal fur on her label, a sign, she said, of her support for the Canadian seal hunt.

There are two hunts per year: one in the Arctic held by Inuit, the other, larger one in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

More than 15,500 Canadians have seal hunting permits.

Shea said her delegation had good discussions with Chinese officials, as well as with importers who normally handle Canadian fish imports.

The Chinese don't normally eat seal meat. They have a small number of seals in the country, but they're protected.

Canadian officials said the Chinese would cultivate a taste for the delicacy – not a tall task given their prized and inventive culinary culture.

"We're now at what we think is the end of a process of formally lifting those restrictions (on seal meat)," said Mike Pearson, director general of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who was part of the talks.

Neither he nor the minister, however, would predict when China will allow Canadian seal imports.


"We'd like to expand the market," she said in an interview. "China has a huge population and very good potential as a market for Canada."

Traditionally the Chinese were interested only in pelts, but in recent years they've begun buying omega-3 oils. Now there is research into developing a protein powder as well as the potential use of seal heart valves for transplantation into in humans.

"This (latter) is an exciting project with potential benefit to the entire world," she said.


But no one has persuaded the EU to reverse its ban on seal products.

Today the government is appealing the European Union's decision to the World Trade Organization.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, now this is really really good news ???

When one door closes another opens.