Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut May 08, 2013 - 3:07 pm

Nunavut’s environment minister slams EU seal ban

"A senseless attack on the Inuit culture"


Nunavut’s environment minister stood up in the territorial legislature May 8 to criticize the European Union’s ban on seal products and praise the efforts made by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and others to overturn that ban.

“I ask that all members join me in commending the efforts of ITK and their co-plaintiffs thus far in standing up for the rights of seal hunters and seal hunting cultures against the hypocrisy and neo-colonialism of the EU,” said James Arreak in a minister’s statement, referring to the April 25 dismissal of their appeal to General Court of Europe.

Arreak noted that another appeal remains before the EU court — this one in connection with an earlier, unsuccessful attempt to annul the ban.

That legal challenge claims the ban’s “Inuit exemption’ is an “empty box” for Canadian Inuit, ITK told Nunatsiaq News. The EU court ruled the applicants were not admissible, but the applicants are appealing that ruling.

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of Europe said earlier this year in a non-binding opinion that the General Court was right to reject the action which the Inuit had brought against the ban on trade in seal products in the EU as being inadmissible.

But Arreak said “we are hopeful that this appeal will be successful, allowing the case to be judged on its merits, rather than being dismissed on a legal technicality.”

The General Court said April 25 that the ban “protects the fundamental economic and social interests of Inuit communities which hunt seals as an integral part of their culture and identity.”

“The EU seal ban is a senseless attack on the Inuit culture and a threat to all forms of sustainable wildlife use. Despite the EU’s assertion that the Inuit exemption to the ban protects Inuit, we know for a fact that it does not,” Arreak said.

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