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Inuit to appeal EU seals ruling

by Staff Writers
Ottawa (AFP) Oct 29, 2010
Canadian Inuit and sealers will appeal a European court's refusal to suspend a ban on the import of seal products in Europe, they said Friday.

The European Parliament endorsed the ban last year after a public outcry over Canada's annual commercial seal hunt, which animal rights activists denounce as cruel.

The decision angered Canada and prompted a legal challenge by Inuit groups from Canada and Greenland.

On Friday, Canada's national Inuit organization -- Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) -- and the Fur Institute of Canada said they "plan to appeal the EU court decision."

"I am disappointed and angered that the suspension of the ban has been lifted," ITK president Mary Simon said in a statement.

"We view this as a minor setback," she added. "We 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."

Simon called the ban "a great injustice" and said European parliamentarians' support for it showed they "continue to be blinded by a combination of old, discredited colonialist attitudes and a cynical disinformation campaign from animal rights activists."

The European ban includes an exemption for seal products derived from hunts traditionally conducted by Inuit and indigenous communities for subsistence, dealing a blow to hunters and fur traders.

Despite the exemption, Inuit insist the move adversely affects them because it shrinks the market for the product. They also fear the exemption would not always be respected.

The ban took partial effect on August 20 with a temporary exemption for ITK and 15 other plaintiffs who sought a freeze until Europe's top court makes a final ruling.

The judge rejected their request, making it a total ban until the European Court of Justice decides on the legality of the prohibition.

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