NNSL Photo/Graphic

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

EU lifts sealskin ban
GN can now certify sealskins under new rules

Karen K. Ho
Northern News Services
Saturday, August 8, 2015

A new agreement between Canada and the European Union has granted an exemption to a ban on seal products for Nunavut - such as fur, meat and clothing - in Europe.

NNSL photo/graphic

Nunavut seal fur has many unexpected uses. Here Teena Angmarlik grabs her sealskin slider and gets ready for a slide. - photo courtesy of Joan Gilley

This means that hunters, artists and craftspeople in the territory whose livelihoods depend on the ringed seal will now be able to access the European market.

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq told Nunavut News/North said she was very excited by the decision.

"I've been working on this file since 2009," she said. "I was just thrilled."

The European Union recently approved the territorial government as an official "recognized body" under the Indigenous Communities Exemption of the EU Seal Regime. This means the territorial government will now be able to certify sealskins as having been harvested according to the rules of the exemption.

Aglukkaq said her experience as a Northern Inuk means she knows firsthand how important the seal hunt is to Inuit as a source of food, income and culture.

"This week's decision will support the Inuit sealers, and the income of our hunters," she said. "It will now allow Canadian Inuit sealers to access a market for their products, support our hunters locally and an economic opportunity for talented artists and sewers."

When it comes to the concern that the market for Inuit sealskin products has dried up in Europe since the ban went into place in 2009, Aglukkaq said, "Any market to sell our products is a good opportunity."

She acknowledged that same year, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with China. However, she said this exemption with the European Union would be complimentary to the Chinese initiative.

"The more markets we can access to support our hunters and our artists in Nunavut is very good," Aglukkaq said.

Nunavut's seal and long fur industry is also set to receive $445,360 from the federal government, territorial government and universities to support marketing, training and research of the region's ringed seals. The funds will spread over two years.

According to a news release, part of the funding will go to workshops that will also introduce "new and traditional techniques to improve quality of pelts, ensuring better prices."

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.