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Canada Inuit sue EU over seal trade ban

[JURIST] Representatives of Canada's Inuit population on Wednesday announced [press release] a lawsuit against the European Union (EU) [official website] challenging its impending ban on the sale of seal products. The suit, filed in the General Court of the Court of Justice of the EU [official website], seeks to overturn Regulation (EC) No 1007/2009 [text, PDF], which is expected to take effect [BBC report] prior to the 2010 seal hunting season. President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) [organization website] Mary Simon [profile] said:

Inuit have been hunting seals and sustaining themselves for food, clothing, and trade for many generations. ... It is bitterly ironic that the EU, which seems entirely at home with promoting massive levels of agri-business and the raising and slaughtering of animals in highly industrialized conditions, seeks to preach some kind of selective elevated morality to Inuit.

The legislation suggests a partial exemption for seals hunted by Inuit, though its terms are not defined.

The Canadian government took action [press release] against the ban in November, initiating the World Trade Organization (WTO) [official website] dispute resolution process by requesting consultations. The ban follows extensive public pressure [CBC report] to end seal hunting by groups citing humanitarian considerations. More narrow European restrictions imposed in 1983 caused the industry to suffer a sharp decline. Commercial seal hunting is an economic and cultural staple [DFO materials] for the Inuit, who contend that their methods are necessary and humane.

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