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Inuit sue to overturn EU seal product ban law

14 January 2010, 21:56 CET
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(COPENHAGEN) - Inuit in Greenland and Canada have filed a suit in the European General court to overturn EU legislation banning the import of seal products, an official from an Inuit NGO told AFP Thursday.

"We have decided, along with Inuit organisations and the Greenlandic association of fishermen and hunters to sue in order to stop this unfair and arbitrary legislation," Aqqaluk Lynge told AFP.

Lynge said the EU decision's effects were worse than "Brigitte Bardot's campaign against the seal hunt in the 1980s."

Lynge is the president in Greenland of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), a non-governmental organisation representing some 150,000 Inuit from Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia.

The 27 EU states in July 2009 adopted a ban on seal products, ruling the goods could not be marketed from 2010.

Exceptions were made for products not sold for profit and products coming from Inuit hunts.

Lynge argued the "Inuit exemption" was flawed, saying the market had suffered greatly since the EU legislation was announced last year.

"It is important for Inuit across the Davis Straight to unite and fight this legislation," he said, noting Inuit were already affected by climate change and now had to fight "extremists who fundamentally do not respect (the Inuit) way of life."

Duane Smith, the president of ICC Canada, said in a statement "the EU left Inuit with no alternative but to sue" to try to get the "unclear, flawed and unfair regulation" invalidated.

Canada and Greenland account for more than 50 percent of the 900,000 seals slain in the world each year. Other seal-hunting countries include Norway, Namibia, Iceland, Russia and the United States.

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