OTTAWA, April 25, 2013 /CNW/ - Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) and other Inuit plaintiffs in Canada and Greenland and non-Inuit plaintiffs represented by the Fur Institute of Canada (FIC), expressed disappointment today with the European Union General Court's decision to rule against their case to annul the implementing measures of the EU seal ban.
The plaintiffs in this case lodged legal action against the EU Parliament, Council, and Commission in 2010 to strike down the implementing measures of the seal ban that came into effect in 2009. While a decision on an appeal for the main seal ban regulation is pending, the purpose of this separate action against the implementing measures was to seek a second option on terminating the main seal ban regulation.
"It's been three years since we took this action against the so-called Inuit Exemption and it's really disappointing to see that the EU General Court is not putting into serious question the validity of what we know is a false exemption that only pays political lip service to Inuit and does little to protect us," stated Terry Audla, Canada's national Inuit leader. "In fact, it's quite shocking to read the General Court's politically-slanted press release statement that 'EU law protects the fundamental economic and social interests of Inuit communities'.
"The EU has no authority to speak on what is best for Inuit. We Inuit have been telling the EU all along that the ban is not good for us," stated Audla. "But their colonial, holier-than-thou attitude toward us and their self-serving interests have not resulted in a fair or just process for Inuit"
The regulation, which came into effect in 2010, provided implementing measures for the main seal ban regulation that entered into force the year before. The implementing measures contain certain exemptions to the seal ban such as seal products from Inuit harvesters, seal products to recover costs of management culls, and products for personal use. The EU has argued that Inuit will not be affected by the seal ban because of the Inuit exemption.
"We fully agree on that point because, as all Inuit and non-Inuit sealing communities know, the anti- sealing campaigns in the EU in addition to the legislative and regulatory power and force of the seal ban itself was enough to kill a viable market in the EU," stated Rob Cahill. "With no market for selling seal products in the EU, there is no effective exemption for selling seal products in the EU."
As with the 1983 ban on "white coats" and "blue backs" which also claimed to exempt Inuit products, it is clear that the cultural, social and economical impacts of this ban are very significant. "Coastal peoples, both Inuit and non-Inuit, know that seals and their products are key to maintaining viable communities," states Rob Cahill, Executive Director of FIC.
"In addition to providing necessary income, the harvesting of seals also provides an ecosystem service by helping to achieve an acceptable fish/seal ratio. Ironically, the Estonian Parliament today passed legislation to reinstate a grey seal hunt to manage their populations".
This decision negatively impacts the sealing industry, but also all industries that are relying on sustainable use of natural, abundant and renewable resources. "If we start to base a ban on subjective and arbitrary "moral" grounds, who will be targeted next? Will it be the fishing industry, the beef industry, the oil industry? This is a very dangerous precedent", commented Rob Cahill.
"We are going to review in more detail the judgment that has been handed down and explore our options," stated Audla. "We do have a right to appeal and have a two month period to decide on this option."
SOURCE: Seals and Sealing Network
For further information:
Fur Institute of Canada
Director of Communications
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
Tel: 613.238.8181 Ext 272