Greenland seal hunters protest against Danish shop refusal

A group of seal hunters from Greenland has staged a protest outside Le Magasin department store in Copenhagen after it announced that it will stop selling seal products. The store, purchased by UK retailer Debenhams in 2009, decided to stop stocking the goods despite an exemption to the EU’s seal production ban that allows Inuits to sell to the 27 member states.

“There is no demand for seal products,” Helle Skov, the communications director of Le Magasin, told Nuuk-based newspaper Sermitsiaq AG when the store announced that it would stop selling the goods earlier this year.

The sale of by-products of hunting [and] conducted for the purpose of sustainable management of marine resources on a non-profit basis” is permitted in the EU for traditional hunts in Russia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. According to Greenland MP Sara Olsvig, however, not enough Europeans know about the exemption.

“That a department store in Denmark directly prohibits the sale of sealskin products, I think that’s a clear example of how the Inuit exemption does not work in practice,” Olsvig said. “There is a lot of work being done in promoting and producing sealskin products to discerning consumers in Europe, but, if more and more shops stop selling all seal products for “animal ethical” reasons, we won’t get very far.”