Facts on Sealing in Nunavut
- The hunting of seals is a key part of the culture, nutrition, food security and economy of Inuit in Nunavut’s remote coastal communities.
- In Nunavut, seals are hunted first and foremost as a source of food. The pelts and other parts of the seal are used locally for clothing, arts and crafts, and remaining pelts are byproducts placed on the international market to provide valuable income for hunters and their families in communities with limited economic opportunities.
- Five seal species are hunted in Nunavut, with ringed seals being the preferred food species and comprising the majority of the harvest.
- Harp seals are also harvested by Inuit, and with a population that now exceeds 9 million animals, this species is becoming increasingly prevalent in Nunavut waters.
Facts on the EU Ban
- The EU seal products ban (Regulation No. 1007/2009) was published in 2009 and came into force in August 2010, causing an immediate collapse in sealskin prices internationally and leading to several other nations adopting or considering seal import bans.
- The Government of Nunavut recently published a report detailing the impacts of the EU seal ban on Nunavut sealskin sales and revenues, available online at: (please scroll to page 15 for the English version) http://env.gov.nu.ca/sites/default/files/impactssealban_web.pdf
- Average sale prices for Nunavut sealskins remain at approximately 50% of pre-ban levels at the present time.
- Two challenges of the EU ban are currently ongoing:
- A legal challenge of the ban through the European Court of Justice by a group of Inuit and other sealing industry plaintiffs led by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
- A World Trade Organization Challenge by Canada and Norway
Facts on the Inuit Exemption to the Ban
- Regulation No. 1007/2009 contains a limited exemption for seal products resulting from Inuit and Aboriginal seal hunts; however, this exemption has been unsuccessful at facilitating sales of Inuit seal pelts and products into the EU market.
- One major reason for the ineffectiveness of the Inuit exemption is the fact that the EU ban and the publicity around it destroyed the market for all sealskins in the EU, regardless of origin, as seal products of Inuit origin are indistinguishable from those of other origins to the average consumer.
- Another major flaw of the Inuit exemption is that while a European manufacturer may be allowed to purchase and import Inuit-harvested sealskins, it is illegal for those sealskins to be manufactured into new products within the EU for placement on the market. This effectively eliminates the EU as a market for the primary Inuit seal product- the cleaned and dried raw sealskin.
- The EU whitecoat seal ban in 1983 contained a similar exemption for Inuit products, which was equally ineffective. That the EU chose to ignore this fact, which was raised repeatedly by Inuit organizations prior to the adoption of the 2009 ban, only reinforces the conclusion by Inuit and fur industry experts that the Inuit exemption was never intended to function, but merely put in place to make the ban more appealing to the European public.
Facts on the Arctic Council
- Arctic Council Member States include: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian federation, Sweden and the United States
- Permanent Arctic Council Participants include: Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabascan Council, Gwich’in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Saami Council
- Non-Arctic Countries with observer status at the Arctic Council include: France, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom
- Organizations with observer status at the Arctic Council include: International Federation of the Red Cross, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordic Environment Finance Corporation, North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission, Standing Committee of the Parliamentarians of the Arctic Regions, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, United Nations Development Program, United Nations Environment Program
- The following are some of the criteria for States and organizations to be admitted as observers to the Arctic Council
- Recognize Arctic States Sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the Arctic
- Recognize the values, interests, culture and traditions of Arctic Indigenous Peoples and other Arctic Inhabitants
- Have demonstrated the Political willingness as well as financial ability to contribute to the work of the Permanent Participants and other Arctic indigenous peoples
- Have demonstrated a concrete interest and ability to support the work of the Arctic Council, including through partnerships with member states and Permanent Participants bringing Arctic concerns to global decision making bodies.