The European Parliament has passed a measure banning the import of all products made from seals into its 27 member countries. Special exceptions are allowed for products exported from traditional Inuit hunters in Greenland and Canada.
Denmark and Canada have been leading the call against the ban on seal products, but the motion was easily passed by a large majority of the EU Parliament. This means the ban will be in effect by the end of the year. Canada and Denmark expected this result, and also knew there would be a special exception for the Inuit so that their traditional ways of life could continue in Greenland and Canada.
But even with the special clause, the Copenhagen Post reports many Danish MEPs are concerned the ban will hurt the economic livelihood of villages along Greenland’s coast. “There are some settlements that consist of between 10-20 people along the northern coast who depend on seal hunting,” said Christian Rovsing, MEP for the Danish Conservative party. “How can we expect them to survive economically if we rob them of their means to do so?”
Animal rights activists ran an effective, well-publicised campaign against culling seals for the market. Almost as much clamour has been made by people in Norway, Denmark, Canada and Greenland, who see the ban as an end to the seal product industries in their countries. Norway has suggested it will now take the case to the World Trade Organisation, and Canada is preparing to bring it up at a top-level meeting between its government and the EU in Prague.