Canada Inuit sue EU over seal trade ban

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.