On Monday, the World Trade Organization upheld the European Union ban on seal products, a law that Canadian Inuit have called ‘immoral’ and ‘outrageaus’.
The European Parliament had passed a bill to ban the importation of seal products in 2009 after a campaign by animal welfare activists against the commercial seal hunt.
Though indigenous people in the Arctic are exempt from the ban, the law has effectively killed the market for seal products.
This has had a major economic and social impact for Inuit, Sami and other Arctic indigenous communities.
“The ban runs contrary to principles of fair trade, and it is truly inexplicable that the WTO did not dismiss outright the EU’s Orwellian ‘moral grounds’ justification of this outrageous trade impediment,” said Terry Audla, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada’s national Inuit organization, in a statement shortly after the decision was announced.
“The seal ban demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of Arctic Peoples on the part of the EU,” said Mr. Audla.
Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca