Wildlife Sustainability - 2008 to 2010 Archive

Canadian Values

Ottawa Citizen, December 21, 2010

On behalf of the Fur Institute of Canada (FIC), I would like to congratulate Justin Trudeau on a beautiful Christmas card — one that reflects not only his family’s culture, interests and values, but the values and interests of tens of thousands of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

As a representative of the FIC, Canada’s testing agency for testing and implementation of the International Humane Trapping Standards in Canada, I can confidently say that Canada has the most advanced humane trap research program in the world, the strictest regulations for trapping and the most highly trained trappers anywhere. Canada continues to be blessed with healthy populations of virtually all native wildlife species.

In addition, native and nonnative trappers were not only important in opening Canada, but they continue to play a vital role in maintaining biodiversity and regulating wildlife populations for the protection of human health and safety. In fact, it has been Canadian trappers that have kept raccoon rabies from entering Montreal in the past few years, and with the use of scientifically tested trapping systems, trappers were integral to the successful reintroduction of wolves and Canadian lynx to the United states over the past 15 years.

[ Read More ]

Nunavut Narwhal Tusk Export Ban Defended

Friday, December 17, 2010 by CBC News

Federal fisheries officials are defending their ban on the international export of narwhal tusks from 17 Nunavut communities, despite an outcry from Inuit who trade tusk ivory for income.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says it has imposed restrictions on the export of narhwal tusks from Iqaluit and other communities because narwhal in those areas are being overhunted.

Inuit have long hunted the Arctic whale for its skin and blubber, a food source. To earn extra income, whalers also hunt male narwhal for their heavy spiralling tusks that jut upwards of three metres from the jaw.

But DFO officials say if Canada does not restrict the export of those tusks, then the international community may ban exports altogether under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

[ Read More ]

Feds Defend Narwhal Tusk Sale Ban

By Randy Boswell, Postmedia News December 18, 2010

The Canadian government is defending its controversial decision to ban the export of narwhal tusks from most of the Nunavut communities currently selling the spear-like objects that inspired the unicorn myth.

Officials with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans told Postmedia News on Friday that Canada’s hands are essentially tied on the issue because of its commitment to the protocols of an international wildlife treaty controlling the global trade in animal parts — including the long, spiralling tooth that serves as a sensor and mating adornment for the iconic Arctic whale.

The tusks, which can grow longer than three metres, are coveted by collectors as rare keepsakes or used by ivory carvers to make canes, figurines and other objects.

[ Read More ]

Makers of Trudeau Family’s Coyote Fur-Lined Parkas Defend Product as ‘Sustainable’

By Tom Spears, Postmedia News December 17, 2010

The company that made the fur-trimmed parkas worn by Liberal MP Justin Trudeau’s family in this season’s Christmas card has defended the use of coyote fur as “sustainable.”

The prominent animal-rights group PETA this week denounced the holiday greeting card that features a picture of Trudeau, his wife Sophie, and their two young children wearing coats by Canada Goose. The family is enrobed in thick fur trim lining the garments’ hoods and huddling behind a fur blanket.

But the Toronto-based company’s response to the criticism raises the question: Does the word sustainable really mean anything?

[ See Photo and Read More ]

Fur: Is it Acceptable to Wear?

December 17, 2010 – Liberal MP Justin Trudeau poses with his family on his annual holiday card. (Canadian Press) By CBC News

A Christmas card showing Liberal MP Justin Trudeau and his family draped in coyote fur is outraging animal rights activists.

Trudeau’s annual Christmas card sent to his Montreal constituents this year features his wife, Sophie Grégoire, and the couple’s two children wearing parkas with fur-trimmed hoods, and the entire family is cuddled up under a fur blanket.

[ See Photo and Read More ]

Inuit Plan to Appeal EU Court Decision to Lift Seal Ban Suspension



Friday October 29, 2010 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canada’s national Inuit organization – Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), and the Fur Institute of Canada (FIC), the lead organizations of a 16 plaintiff consortium – plan to appeal the European Union (EU) court decision of October 26, 2010 which reinstated the ban on the import of seal products into the EU. The ban was suspended as part of interim injunction proceedings by the EU court in a judgment rendered on August 19, 2010.

“I am disappointed and angered that the suspension of the ban has been lifted, now that the judge has had ample time since August 19th to properly consider this immoral legislation. e plan to appeal the ruling as we believe the original seal ban was based on colonial perceptions of our sealing practices, and this week’s ruling is a perfect illustration of this,” stated ITK president Mary Simon.

“In appealing this decision we are in the process of putting a great injustice on the record. Regrettably, a majority of European Parliamentarians continue to be blinded by a combination of old, discredited colonialist attitudes and a cynical disinformation campaign from animal rights activists,” she added.

“The recent news is disappointing, but it will not affect the outcome of our main case on the ban, which is still before the Court, and expected to go to trial next year,” said Rob Cahill, Executive Director of the FIC. “This legislation is discriminatory and unjust. It does absolute nothing to address marine conservation or animal welfare, and is misguided at best,” says Cahill.

“We are in this for the long haul, and we will continue to use all the avenues open to us – legal, political, public opinion – to expose the fundamental injustice of punishing Inuit for pursuing our way of life,” said Mary Simon.

“I call on European citizens to understand what this Legislation is doing to our right to sell seal products into their markets. I call on them to educate themselves on why the seal hunt is in fact legal, humane and sustainable, and in many cases necessary to maintain marine ecosystem balance. I call on Canadians to do the same,” concluded Ms. Simon.

For more information please contact:

Stephen Hendrie

Director of Communications, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Mobile (613) 277-3178



David Barry

Seals and Sealing Network Coordinator

Fur Institute of Canada

Mobile (709) 640-1628


www.fur.ca and www.sealsandsealing.net

Seal Ban Challenge Receives Clarification by EU Court

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 – Joint Press Release * ITK/FIC

Members of a 16-plaintiff alliance welcomed a favourable ruling from the European General Court regarding their challenge to the European Union’s ban on seal products.

“Inuit, who are central to this case, are pleased with this week’s indications by the General Court that Inuit and non-Inuit plaintiffs can continue to place seal products on the EU market without interruption from the regulation,” stated national Inuit leader Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

“The news from the Court today indicates that trade and further manufacturing of seal products within the EU can continue for the time being, unfettered by the current Regulation”, said Rob Cahill, executive director or the Fur Institute of Canada. Speaking on behalf of the Seals and Sealing Network, Cahill explained, “Action by the Court has been necessary in order to protect the market status quo and not further damage the interests of the plaintiffs in this case.”

On October 20th, the President of the General Court of the European Union issued a ruling, which explained the scope of a provisional interim measures order issued on August 19th by the Court. The relevant part of the order reads as follows:

[ Read More ]

The Trapline

Canada’s Founding Industry Makes a Comeback

By Crystal Luxmore

Field Note → From the October 2010 issue of The Walrus

Her back against the wall of a chilly North Bay warehouse tinged with the acrid smell of death, Anna Rodgers pulls a piece of soft brown fur tight in one hand, gently paring away the membrane that joins it to meat. The twenty-three-year-old plugs a nick with paper towel, her lips pursed in concentration, as blood drips to the floor inches from her white runners. A handful of spectators snap pictures before shuffling along to the next station, where a woman twice Rodgers’ age is already nailing the edges of her pelt to a wooden board. Nearby, two others are just setting up. That makes a total of four competitors in the ladies’ beaver skinning competition at the nineteenth annual Trappers Convention, held by the Fur Harvesters Auction. Not bad for an industry plagued by thirty years of low prices, warm winters, and vitriol.


Trapping was once the economic backbone of Canada, as coureurs de bois and Hudson’s Bay Company clerks vied for beaver pelts then hugely in demand overseas. When European hatmakers discovered silk in the 1830s, the industry settled into the boom-bust cycle characteristic of natural resources — that is, until the modern animal rights movement raised ethical concerns about fur in the 1980s. Farming was considered more humane than trapping (because the animals are killed instantly, typically by electrocution or carbon monoxide), and Scandinavia cornered the new market, nearly doubling production of farmed fur. Canada still produces almost two million ranch pelts a year — twice as many as it does wild. The final blow came in 1991, when the EU banned imports of animals caught in leghold traps, forcing all but a few full-time trappers to hang up their Conibears.

[ Read More ]

EU Seal Ban Suspended

Inuit Leaders Question Legality Of Ban On Canadian Seal Products

CBC News, Friday, August 20, 2010

A European Union ban on seal products was temporarily suspended Thursday, the day before it was set to take effect, because of a legal challenge by Inuit leaders.

The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, representing Canada’s 53,000 Inuit, and Inuit in Greenland filed a legal challenge against the EU’s ban earlier this year, calling it illegal and immoral.

The Canadian Seal Marketing Group and the Fur Institute of Canada are also involved in the challenge.

The EU’s General Court, based in Luxembourg, agreed to impose a delay on the ban in order to properly consider the legal challenge, saying the delay was in the “interest of the proper administration of justice.”

[ Read More ]

FAQs: The Atlantic Seal Hunt

CBC News, Monday, July 27, 2010

There are few issues more controversial in Canada and around the world than the annual seal hunt that takes place in the waters and on the ice floes off Atlantic Canada.

The bloody images, the heated rhetoric, the impassioned defences all combine in a familiar rite that pits governments and sealers against animal rights groups.

Even the language is chosen carefully. Hunt or slaughter. Sea mammals or baby seals. Cherished tradition or economic disaster. Cod-eating nuisance or adorable innocent.

The images of the hunt are even more powerful, and seal hunt opponents know it. Most people find the pictures difficult to watch, but supporters say the same kind of thing happens in slaughterhouses — places where cameras aren’t allowed.

Here are a few of the questions swirling around the debate and how the big stakeholders respond.

[ Read More ]

Animal Welfare And The Harp Seal Hunt In Atlantic Canada

Can Vet Journal, 2002 September, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association


Much attention has been given over the years to animal welfare issues surrounding the seal hunt in Atlantic Canada. However, very little information is available on this subject in the scientific literature. This article reports the results of observations made by representatives of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association at the hunt in recent years and compares them with observations made by members of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The conclusion is that the large majority of seals taken during this hunt (at best, 98% in work reported here) are killed in an acceptably humane manner. However, the small proportion of animals that are not killed effectively justifies continued attention to this hunt on the part of the veterinary profession.


Harp seals (Phoca groenlandica) and hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) are ice-breeding species that migrate annually between arctic and subarctic regions of the Atlantic. The northwestern population moves between Davis Strait in summer and whelping grounds in late winter, namely, northeast of Newfoundland (the “Front”) and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (the “Gulf”), usually in the vicinity of the Magdalen Islands. Females give birth in March; young harp seals are weaned after approximately 12 d and hooded seals after only 4 d; the young of both species are immediately abandoned by their mothers. These 2 species, but particularly the harp seal because of its large numbers, have been the basis of the seal hunt in Atlantic Canada for more than 200 y (1). The long white fur of newborn harp seals (“whitecoats”), which starts being shed at about 14 d of age, was particularly prized. Newborn harp seals gain weight (mainly fat) very rapidly, move little on the ice, and do not go into the water. It is, therefore, very easy to approach and kill them with a blow to the head, either with a regulation wooden club (60–100 cm long) or a regulation hakapik (105–153 cm long, with a metal ferrule with a slightly bent spike on one side and a blunt projection on the opposite side) (2). The hunt reached its greatest magnitude in the middle of the 19th century, when more than 400 000 pelts were landed annually; however, this level of overexploitation could not be sustained for long before the size of the stock and, consequently, the catches decreased (1).

[ Read More ]

EU Seal Ban Put On Ice

Bill Curry, Ottawa — From Friday’s Globe and Mail Published on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010

Canadian sealers have won a tenuous reprieve from the European Union import ban on seal products thanks to a last-minute suspension announced just as Prime Minister Stephen Harper attacked the ban as “a disgrace.”

Canada is courting the EU in wide-ranging free trade talks but, speaking on Thursday in Miramichi, N.B., Mr. Harper cast aside diplomatic niceties in criticizing the ban, which was to take effect on Friday.

“This is flagrant discrimination against the Canadian seal industry, against Canadian sealers … people who are doing animal husbandry, no differently than many other industries,” he said. “It is a disgrace that they’re treated this way in some countries based on no rational facts or information whatsoever. We strongly object to the [ban]. We will continue to defend our sealers.”

The president of the European General Court suspended the ban because a court case led by Canadian Inuit leaders [is] still under way.

[ Read More ]

Rational Thought Prevails On Polar Bear Issue

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Doha, Qatar: The rejection of the proposal for an Appendix I listing of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) by the CITES Conference of the Parties in Doha, Qatar by a decisive vote of 62 to 48 vindicates the efforts of countries opposed to the listing of species on emotive grounds – rather than the scientific criterion laid down by the CITES Convention.

IWMC believes the speculative promotion of species without justifiable conservation management grounds is proving to be more of a hindrance than a help to those engaged and committed to the preservation of plants and animals in genuine danger of becoming extinct.

The vote reflects the prevailing opinion that the polar bear is in no way endangered through trade within the range states of its habitat.

Eugene Lapointe, President of IWMC said: “Should this vote have been accepted it would have set a risky precedent, opening a door for the listing of all sorts of species of fauna and flora on non-scientific grounds. Promoting an agenda whereby species are elevated to flag species status, in the absence of verifiable science motivation can, and has been shown to have, a negative impact on wildlife and the long-term integrity and sustainability of their populations.

Issued by: IWMC

For more information or comment, please contact:

Eugene Lapointe on mobile: 684 2937 or Gavin Carter on mobile: 574 5064

Internet – Good Or Evil For Wildlife?

Doha, 16 March 2010 – Internet and new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are impacting on the conservation of wild fauna and flora in many significant ways, and countries have been turning their attention to their growing importance. They recognize that they will face difficulties to control wildlife trade under CITES if they lack adequate access to the Internet and other new communication tools.

[ Read More ]

CITES World Conference Opens With Call For New Wildlife Trade Rules

Decisions on the budget will show how seriously 175 member States take new measures to conserve and manage natural riches of the planet.

“Doha, 13 March 2010 – Some 1,500 delegates representing more than 170 governments, indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations and businesses are attending the triennial world conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Bluefin tuna, elephant populations and a wide range of sharks, corals, polar bears, reptiles, insects and plants are top of the agenda for the two-week meeting.

CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers thanked Qatar for hosting the meeting and noted that existing and new challenges require increased political support for the 35-year old treaty to match present day demands. Mr Wijnstekers congratulated the member States for the many conservation successes during these years but warned that more needs to be done. “We do not want to risk letting down the developing world in its struggle to ensure that trade in wild fauna and flora is conducted legally and sustainably”, he said.

Many of the 42 proposals on the table reflect growing international concern about the accelerating destruction of the world’s marine and forest ecosystems through overfishing and excessive logging, and the potential impacts of climate change on the biological resources of the planet. The UN General Assembly has declared 2010 the international year of biodiversity and the CITES Conference will be one of the key occasions governments have this year to take action to protect biodiversity. Member States will decide by consensus or a two-thirds majority vote for measures to conserve and manage species on the agenda.”

They will be deciding the fate of the Polar Bear among many other species on the planet.

For the full story, [ Read More ]

Management And International Trade Of Polar Bear From Canada

Convention On International Trade In Endangered Species Of Wild Fauna And Flora

The intent of this document is to provide CITES Parties with the current facts on international trade of polar bear from Canada:

[ View PDF Document ]

Countries Urged to Reject U.S. Ban on Polar Bear Trade

Signatories to endangered species convention to vote on proposal in March

A U.S. proposal to ban the international trade of polar bear products should be rejected, according to the secretariat of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The secretariat is recommending that the 175 countries that have signed CITES vote against the U.S. proposal, which calls for polar bears to be reclassified as a species threatened with extinction.

If the polar bear is reclassified under CITES, it would effectively ban all commercial sale of products derived from the animals, such as hides.

“There has to be a marked decrease in the population, and we don’t believe that the evidence is compelling in that regard,” Stephen Nash, the secretariat’s chair of capacity building, told CBC News Thursday from Geneva.

[ Read More ]

The Fur Council of Canada supports the

Universal Declaration of the Ethical Harvest of Seals


PRESS RELEASE: From the Honourable Céline Hervieux-Payette, PC Senator

OTTAWA, the 21st of January 2010 – “The Universal Declaration on the Ethical Harvest of Seals is gaining in popularity and I am delighted that the Fur Council of Canada is supporting this declaration along with the Canadian fur industry”, said Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette. The Fur Council of Canada is a national, non-profit federation representing people working in every sector of the Canadian fur trade. This includes fur producers, auction houses, processors, designers, craftspeople and retail furriers.

“The Universal Declaration on the Ethical Harvest of Seals which you have sponsored is therefore an extremely important initiative, and the Fur Council of Canada is pleased to support it” wrote Alan Herscovici, the Executive Vice-President, on behalf of the Board of Directors. “We look forward to working with you and your team to promote better public understanding and appreciation of this remarkable Canadian heritage industry”, he added.

The Fur Council of Canada has recently launched a massive campaign to raise awareness about fur as a natural resource that is both recyclable and sustainable. (www.furisgreen.com) “The support of the Fur Council of Canada to the principles outlined in the Universal Declaration is great news: this demonstrates that the industry along with scientists and governments in our country care deeply about animal welfare along with that of human communities and ecosystems” concluded Senator Hervieux-Payette.

The Declaration has also received the support of the governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and Québec along with the international organization for animal conservation IWMC World Conservation Trust based in Switzerland.

Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette urges all governments and concerned organizations to promote and study the application of the Universal Declaration on the Ethical Harvest of Seals written by a panel of experts (www.sealsonline.org).

Maximilien Depontailler

Policy Advisor

Office of the Honourable Céline Hervieux-Payette, P.C.

613-947-8008 – deponm@sen.parl.gc.ca

(French version available)

They Eat Horses In Europe, Don’t They?

PUBLICATION: The Chronicle-Herald

DATE: 2010.01.19

SECTION: Opinion


BYLINE: Paul Schneidereit

I WONDER how much time the average European spends thinking about how the delicious horse meat on the plate before them came to be there.

I admit, I am only assuming horse meat is delicious. I have never had any. Horse meat is not exactly a common item on the menu, or in supermarkets, in these parts.

In Europe, however, where public concern over the welfare of seals off Canada’s east coast has led to a EU-wide ban on the sale of imported seal products, horse meat is quite popular in many countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Poland, Sweden … well, you get the picture.

Italy alone slaughters more than 200,000 horses a year for human consumption.

How are the horses killed? Well, since this is the EU, where horror over the methods of the Canadian seal hunter led to a ban to stop that “cruelty,” surely the butchery is humane.

The graphic answer, according to online sources, is that the horses are stunned by a captive bolt gun – a device which smashes the animal’s head, sometimes more than once, to render it unconscious – then hoisted upside down to have their jugulars cut so they bleed to death.

In comparison, Canadian seal hunters, usually with a rifle but at times with a club or hakapik, strike the sea animal’s head to render the seal unconscious, then cut arteries near the front flippers so they bleed to death.

If the two methods sound similar, it’s because they are. Yet one is labelled inhumane.

Hypocrisy knows no borders, of course, but the Europeans are masters of the game. They are fine with force-feeding ducks and geese to produce tasty foie gras from their fattened livers, produce most animal skins – from some 6,000 fur farms – sold in the world fur market, and, as seen, slaughter vast numbers of horses every year for humans to eat, and yet still react with outrage, some of it politically-calculated, at the deaths of abundant seals.

Well, the Inuit are calling them on it.

[ Read More ]

Canada To Sign Polar Bear Protection Treaty

By Mike De Souza, Canwest News Service

OTTAWA — Canada will sign a new agreement on Friday with the governments of Greenland and Nunavut to protect polar-bear populations in their overlapping regions.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice is travelling to Greenland for the day to participate in the signing ceremony, the government said in an advisory released Thursday.

Conservation groups have said they expect the agreement to be similar to other bilateral deals, such as one signed last year between Canada and the U.S., as well as a separate agreement between Alaska and Russia.

“That shared population (between Canada and Greenland) is probably the most endangered population of polar bears in the Arctic,” said Craig Stewart, director of the Arctic program at WWF-Canada. “This agreement would provide the structure between the two countries to collaborate on stabilizing it.”

Previous bilateral agreements have set a framework for collaboration on scientific research and monitoring of population levels, and could also include specific provisions to address or restrict hunting.

“This is sort of the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle,” said Stewart.

[ Read More ]

Inuit Groups Launch Lawsuit Over EU Seal Ban

It is important for Inuit across the Davis Strait to unite and fight.



Groups representing Inuit in Canada and Greenland filed a lawsuit Wednesday that seeks to overturn the European Union’s ban on importing seal products.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Inuit Circumpolar Council (Greenland) filed the suit in the European Union’s General Court.

“It is important for Inuit across the Davis Strait to unite and fight this unethical legislation,” said Aqqaluk Lynge, president of ICC (Greenland) in a news release.

“On top of the climate change issue, we must contend with animal rights extremists who fundamentally do not respect our way of life, and who use disinformation to further their cause at our expense.”

ITK president Mary Simon said the European ban smacks of racism and hypocracy.

“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,” she said.

The ban passed overwhelmingly in the European Parliament this past May, despite the opposition of a handful of conservative politicians, including Peter Stasny, the former Quebec Nordique hockey player.

While the bill contained an exemption for seals hunted by Inuit, but Canada has rejected that clause because the ban still dried up demand for seal pelts and caused prices to plummet.

“The EU has demonstrated more interest in keeping non-Inuit out of the market than finding ways of including Inuit,” said Duane Smith, president of ICC (Canada). “As such, it is hard to support such an unclear, flawed, and unfair regulation. They left us with no alternative but to sue.”

The federal government is already challenging the ban at the World Trade Organization, a move ITK supports.

The lawsuit also comes as Gail Shea, the federal fisheries minister, is in China, in part to drum up interest for Canadian seal products.

With a market of 1.3 billion people and little in the way of an animal rights movement, the world’s most populous country is seen as a possible saviour for the Canadian seal trade.

A federal news release calls China the world’s largest consumer of fish and seafood.

“Sealing is about more than fur,” Shea said in the release. “The trade of other seal products such as oils and meat represents a growing share of what is already a multi-million dollar business.”

SEALSKIN BAN: Nunavut “Keep on Going”

MONTREAL (November 11, 2009)

Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak says she felt proud when she watched her daughter Karliin and classmates collect awards this week at the Montreal fur show for their original sealskin fashion designs. But apprehension was mixed with this pride. That´s because, even as the model strutted down the runway … [READ MORE about the Sealskin Ban]

Opinion Polls Suggest Canadian Public Support For Governor General’s Praise Of Seal Meat, While Casting Doubt On Claims Of Animal Rights Groups (June 5, 2009)

OTTAWA – According to the Seals and Sealing Network (SSN), a stakeholder group operating under the Fur Institute of Canada (FIC) that monitors public media about seal hunting, Governor General Michaëlle Jean’s recent public tasting of seal meat in Rankin Inlet resonated well to further Canadian public understanding of sealing.

The SSN looked at six online opinion polls regarding the GG’s actions. Questions asked ranged from those seeking reactions to Jean’s participation in the Inuit ceremony, to those seeking a broader response to Canadian sealing. “The majority of support was sympathetic to seal hunting, both Inuit and non-Inuit, consistently gaining between two-thirds and three-quarters of the votes,” says Rob Cahill, Executive Director of the FIC. “Clearly, public opinion on this issue is not representative of ‘an overwhelming majority of Canadians against seal hunting’, as many animalist propaganda groups have been known to claim.”

Cahill commends the Governor General for the significance of her public display of cultural acceptance. “In our experience, the anti-sealing movement tends to exploit attitudes of intolerance towards culturally distinct communities, but Ms. Jean’s simple gesture does a considerable amount to bring the world of rural, coastal and northern living into the homes of urban Canada.”

Meanwhile, with a European Union ban on trade in commercial seal products set to be passed into law in the coming months, the SSN is happy to have the Governor General’s help in highlighting true Inuit concerns over the action. “Early on in their lobby against commercial seal products, animal-rights groups exploited political sympathies for indigenous cultures by favouring a so-called Inuit exemption to a trade ban.” According to the FIC, this allowed Members of the European Parliament to avoid political fallout for their actions, while quietly creating a double standard based on culture, not practice.

Yet, recent attention paid to the North proves that Inuit concerns over the irrelevance of EU exemption have been largely ignored, if not simply dwarfed by the divisive rhetoric of the anti-sealing lobby. “The way Inuit have been attacked over the Governor General’s participation in their ceremony really shows the true face of the anti-sealing lobby,” notes Cahill.

The Seal Showdown Begins As MPs Vote To


Hunt’s Spoils At The Games (May 7, 2009)

Canadian Olympic team refuses to protest seal ban

By Rod Mickleburgh, The Globe and Mail

570 News

Clubbing seals on ice floes is not a Winter Olympics sport, but Canadian parliamentarians have nonetheless voted to spit in the eye of their European counterparts by asking for seal products from the controversial annual hunt to be included on the uniforms of this country’s athletes at the 2010 Games here.

A motion to use the Games to promote seal products passed unanimously in the House of Commons yesterday, as MPs responded to this week’s lopsided vote by the European Parliament to ban the import of seal products.

In particular, the motion put forward by Bloc Québécois member Raynald Blais, who represents the Magdalen Islands where many residents participate in the hunt, calls for seal skin to be part of the official uniforms worn by Canada’s Olympians.

“I would imagine the Olympic clothing is all designed and probably made by now,” Shea said.

“But I think it’s a good symbolic suggestion – to add something to the outfit of our athletes. I think it would be a good statement for the Canadian sealing industry, and Canada’s support of it.”

The proposal was quickly shot down by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), which reminded MPs that the Olympics are not to be used as a platform for special causes. Besides, Canada’s official uniforms for the Olympics have already been designed, approved by the International Olympic Committee and are currently in production, their look and style a closely guarded secret.

But one of the hunt’s most implacable foes, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), welcomed the MPs’ motion with open arms.

“We feel it’s perfect because it shows how completely out of touch the Canadian government is with the rest of the world,” said PETA spokeswoman Kristie Phelps. “It would be extremely appropriate for Canada’s Olympic uniform to wear the country’s heartlessness right on its sleeve.”

PETA, meanwhile, is planning its own use of the Winter Games as a staging ground, vowing to protest the bloody harvest of seals at every stop along the cross-country Olympic torch relay.

“All eyes are on Canada as they prepare to host the Olympics, and we hope to use this extra attention to put an end to the slaughter,” Ms. Phelps said.

“Canada is not popular around the world because of it, and we are going to make the country and the Olympics a target.”

COC boss Chris Rudge said he wasn’t surprised by the House of Commons motion to promote seal products at the 2010 Olympics.

Trying to co-opt the Games for social and political purposes has a long history, he said, but the Olympic Charter prohibits national committees from speaking out on such issues during the Olympics.

“If we agreed [to the motion], we would be in violation of that rule, and we won’t be doing that,” he said. “We will not be putting skin or other seal products on our uniforms.”

Rudge said that over the coming year he expects to field a variety of requests similar to the one made Wednesday, and said his answer won’t change.

“Oh, certainly there will be many – there’s no doubt about it. That goes with the turf,” Rudge said.

“People are concerned about these, and they’re important things to be concerned about. I’m certainly not diminishing them. But we couldn’t begin to speak out about them, even if it was appropriate. There are many things in society that are worthy of social engagement.”

Canada’s seal hunt has long been unpopular in Europe. Photos and videos of young seals being clubbed and skinned on the blood-spattered ice are a staple of the ongoing campaign there to end the annual harvest, the largest of its kind in the world. Russia recently halted its killing of harp seals, after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called the hunt a “bloody industry.”

The EU ban, if approved as expected by member countries, would apply to all seal products and processed goods, including skins for fur coats, meat, oil blubber, organs and Omega 3 pills.

Canada has strongly condemned the move, arguing that the seal hunt is humane and poses no danger to the seal population. The federal government says it intends to challenge the restriction at the World Trade Organization.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said the Canadian government was outmanoeuvred on the public-relations front and that it should have been more aggressive defending the seal hunt.

Duceppe singled out one country that had no business lecturing Canada on animal rights: Spain, where provoking fights with bulls and then repeatedly stabbing them to death in front of cheering spectators is considered a national sport.

“I find it completely abnormal to see protests (against the seal hunt) in Spain – the country that holds the bullfights,” Duceppe said.

“We need a campaign. Our adversaries conducted one heck of a campaign, and Canada did not conduct a major one on the promotional level. …

“The Olympics aren’t a trivial thing. We could use this event to shed light on this, but we need to use other events, too.”

Duceppe shot back at one questioner who asked whether Olympic athletes might bristle at the idea of being forced to wear animal pelts to make a political statement.

“I don’t know what my shoes are made of – but if they’re not made out of plastic, they’re not made out of straw, they come from an animal.”

With files from The Canadian Press

EU Passes Ban on Seal Products (May 5, 2009)

European Union Take Aim At Canada, Bans Seal Products

By Constant Brand, Associated Press

STRASBOURG, France — The European Parliament voted to ban imports of seal products today, trying to force Canada to end its annual seal hunt, which animal rights groups have criticized as barbaric.

The EU assembly overwhelmingly endorsed a bill that said commercial seal hunting, notably in Canada, is “inherently inhumane.” The bill still needs the backing of EU governments, but officials called that a formality since national envoys already had endorsed the bill.

Canada’s East Coast seal hunt is the largest of its kind in the world, killing an average of 300,000 harp seals annually. Canada exported around $5.5 million U.S. dollars worth of seal products such as pelts, meat and oils to the EU in 2006.

The lawmakers faced heavy lobbying from both animal rights groups and authorities from Canada and Greenland. Curbing the hunt of seals in Canada has been the focus of the bill because of the size of its annual cull and the way seals are killed.

The bill is expected to become law in a matter of weeks.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas welcomed the vote and said it addressed “EU citizens’ concerns with regard to the cruel hunting methods of seals.”

Still, today’s vote is sure to pose problems in EU-Canada ties and comes on the eve of a key summit between the two in Prague where they are supposed to launch negotiations on a wide-ranging free trade pact.

Canada and Norway already had warned they would take the 27-nation bloc to the World Trade Organization if it moved to ban seal product imports.

The EU ban will apply to all products and processed goods derived from seals including their skins, which are used to make fur coats, meat, oil blubber, organs and even omega 3 pills.

Animal rights groups believe the hunt is cruel, poorly monitored and provides little economic benefit once costs associated with policing and supporting the hunt are factored in. However, sealers and Canadian authorities say it is sustainable, humane and provides income for isolated fishing communities.

The new EU rule will offer narrow exemptions to Inuit communities from Canada and Greenland and elsewhere to continue their traditional hunts but bars them from large-scale trading of their pelts and other seal goods in Europe.

Another exemption will permit noncommercial, “small-scale” hunts to manage seal populations, but seal products from those hunts will not be allowed to enter the EU.

Inuit groups say such restrictions will spell disaster for their communities, which rely heavily on seal hunts for jobs and income.

The ban “is definitely going to impact the lives of the Inuit in the very near future,” Joshua Kango, head of the Iqaluit, Nunavut-based Amarok hunters and trappers association, told The Associated Press. “We don’t have any other way to survive economically.”

Kango and a group of Newfoundland sealers were in Strasbourg in a last-ditch attempt to thwart a ban.

Arlene McCarthy, who chairs the European Parliament’s internal market and consumer protection committee, said Canada and others cannot ignore the fact that a majority of Europeans are against the hunt and wanted it banned.

For EU lawmakers, she said, those concerns took precedence over the wishes of sealers, fishermen and Inuit groups.

“While we of course have sympathy for those particular groups of people, the reality is that we sit here in the European Parliament and that millions of our citizens would like us to do the right thing and ban the cruel trade,” she said. “They do not want to buy these products.”

Seals are also hunted in Norway, Namibia, Sweden, Finland, Britain and Russia.

Fur is Green

Read Fur is Green to see why the sustainable use of wildlife is supported by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and other environmental authorities.

Seal Hunt and Efforts to Fight Illegal Fishing Dominate NAFMC Meeting

MAY 29, 2008

Ottawa, ON – The Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today issued the following statement after the conclusion of the 13th North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers Conference (NAFMC) held in Malta.

“Last week’s NAFMC was another opportunity for Canada to successfully advance its interests on the world stage, while playing a leadership role within the international community. ”

“A hot topic of discussion was the proposed European Union ban on seal products. Canada’s view continues to be that this action is motivated by inaccurate information fuelled by radical anti-sealing organizations. I voiced Canadian concerns directly to my European counterparts, and was pleased to have had very vocal support from Norway, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland and the Russian Federation. ”

“Our government continues to call upon European Union countries to consider their action carefully. If extreme animal rights groups are seen to be successful, Europeans should be prepared for these groups to make their next target industries within Europe. Their vote will give credibility to organizations that are seeking to shut down all forms of animal harvesting. Canada is supportive of wild hunts that are humane, regulated and responsible.”

“The Ministers also discussed at length ways to get even tougher on those who engage in illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.”

“Last year saw serious infractions in the NAFO Regulatory Area at a historic low thanks to tough new rules brought in under our government. This success has continued in 2008, with inspections not detecting any serious infractions thus far this year.”

“We agreed to work together to strengthen existing rules, while determining what stronger actions can be taken by flag and port states to punish vessels and crews that choose to ignore the rules.”

“Our government has made the fight against overfishing a priority, and I am heartened to work with a group of Ministers who share Canada’s commitment to bring an end to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities.”

Habitat Protection – Saving Critical Habitats

Please read our article on Habitat Protection.

Wildlife Sustainability

The following resources help to demonstrate the sustainability of wildlife in Canada. Wildlife management is key to the survival of all Wildlife in our fragile ecosystem. Wildlife requires vast tracks of land and water for it’s habitat. Within that habitat is a limited supply of food within the food-chain. If for example Polar Bears, White Foxes, Arctic Wolves, Seals, Muskox, etc., become over populated, then the species succumbs to starvation or disease The population is then decimated to a low level, for which it can take decades to recover. Within this sustainability plan is man, we are at the top of the food chain. The Inuit people of Arctic Canada have inhabited the north for thousands of years. Their survival depends on the animals. The Inuit harvest these species for their own use, in clothing, food, carvings, and sell the excess skins, bones, skulls, ivory to Trading Companies such as Furcanada, the Co-op, The North West Company, tourists, southern residents etc.

The biggest threat to the survival of any species in the Arctic or anywhere in Canada is not from hunting, or trapping. It is from the Pollution of the factories in southern Canada, Coal Fired power plants that generate power for Southern Canada and the USA. Automobiles that belch out carbon monoxide to create greenhouse gases. Automobiles that kill millions of birds and wildlife annually on the highways and by-ways of North America Urban sprawl that decimates hundreds of hectares of habitat for wildlife. Raw Human sewage from the City of Victoria, British Columbia being pumped into the Harbour. These are just a few issues of today that confront society in Canada.

The Subsistence Economy (By Larry Simpson)

“Picture an Inuit hunter on the land or sea ice observing a caribou herd or a seal at a breathing hole. The hunter naturally relates their well-being to his own, both in the short term and in the longer term. Now picture a white-shirted man watching the big board at a stock exchange, forever aware of the impacts of such things as currency devaluations or commodity market fluctuations on the other side of the world, and the impact of these on his own fortunes. Are these realities opposites? Perhaps not. Can one participate in both worlds? Ideally, yes. The wired world is here to stay, but, hopefully, so too is the direct and sustainable relationship between Inuit and the natural world.” [ Read More ]

Sealing in Nunavut: A Profile

“For thousands of years, seals have been a vital resource for survival in a very demanding environment. The seal is used for food, clothing, fuel, and arts and crafts. Very little is wasted. Seal harvesting has always been a central foundation of Inuit culture as it sustains traditional sharing customs, a special knowledge of the seal resource and its ecosystem, and the passing on of skills and values from elders to youth.” [ Read More ]

Nunavut Wary of Anti-Sealing

“People are

ignorant about the fact that the seal hunt is a way of life for northern

Canadians and is a part of their culture. All parts of the seal are used –

the fat, the meat, the bones, the skin. The way the seal are hunted and

used is not consistent across Canada. Many people don’t realize that the

ban not only affects the East coast seal hunters, but it will affect an

economy that sustains a way of life for many northern Canadians.” [ Read More ]

Atlantic Canada Seal Hunt – Myths and Realities

Myth #1: The Canadian government allows sealers to kill whitecoat seals.

Reality: The image of the whitecoat harp seal is used prominently

by seal hunt opponents. This image gives the false impression that

vulnerable seal pups are targeted by sealers during the commercial hunt. The hunting of harp seal pups (whitecoats) and hooded seal pups (bluebacks)

is illegal – and has been since 1987. Marine Mammal Regulations prohibit the trade, sale or barter of the fur of these pups. The seals that

are hunted are self-reliant, independent animals.” [ Read More ]

Nunavut Joins Battle To Support Seal Hunt (CBC News)

“Nunavut has joined forces with Newfoundland and Labrador to fight those opposed to the seal hunt in Canada, following a meeting between government leaders in Iqaluit on Monday. Up until now, Nunavut has tried to maintain a distance between the Inuit traditional harvest of seals for food and the controversial commercial seal hunt on the East Coast. Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik says a proposed European seal ban affects the Inuit, who rely on the hunt to sustain and provide food for their families.” [ Read More ]