'We have seal populations that are healthy, hunting that works'
Canada says EU seal import scheme not needed
The European Union's latest proposal for banning seal products isn't needed, Loyola Hearne, the fisheries minister, said last week.
"[O]ur position remains that any ban on a humanely killed hunt, such as Canada's, is without cause," Hearne said in a prepared statement.
The EU scheme, announced July 23 by EU bureaucrats, would not impose a blanket import ban on all seal products.
Instead, it would ban seal products from animals killed in ways "that cause pain, distress and suffering," with a certification system that may include special labels or markings.
To that end, it proposes a set of regulations defining which methods they deem to be inhumane.
"Seal products coming from countries which practice cruel hunting methods must not be allowed to enter the EU," Stavros Dimas, the EU's environment commissioner, said in a statement.
Hearne reacted to the EU plan by saying that Canada expects to be exempted from the regulations, since Canada already has a "humane, regulated and responsible hunt."
He also warned European decision makers against making a sweeping import ban based on "misinformation and emotional rhetoric."
Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said she questions the idea of Europeans making regulations about hunting practices that are already regulated in Canada.
"At this point, who will be setting the human standards bar on seal hunting? It appears the Europeans are ready and willing to make that judgment call for Canada and perhaps the rest of the world," Simon said.
She also suggested that the EU scheme would add unfair costs to seal products.
"We have seal populations that are healthy, hunting methods that work, harvesting that is sustainable, and a market internationally that is available to Inuit and non-Inuit alike to engage in, whether you are from Canada, Greenland, Finland, Sweden or Scotland," she said.
Olayuk Akesuk, Nunavut's environment minister, said in a news release that the EU commission is making decisions based on "distorted media images rather than the facts."
And he said that an exemption for Inuit hunters won't work, because if the EU succeeds in destroying the market for sealskins, Inuit sealskin producers will be hurt anyway.
He also pointed out that the Government of Nunavut, along with Newfoundland, has already called for a ban on use of the hakapik for hunting seals.
The EU seal import regulation system will now go to the European Parliament and the European Council.
The new rules won't come into effect until after they're approved by those two bodies.