Ashfield, Aglukkaq blast EU seal decision
Court upholds 3-year ban, rejecting appeal from sealers, Inuit
Two federal ministers have blasted a new court decision that upholds the three-year-old European Union ban that has dealt a powerful blow to Canada's seal industry.
Sealers, however, say Canadian politicians need to match their rhetoric with action before what's left of the embattled seal hunt dies away.
The General Court of the European Union turned down an appeal from Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and other groups, including sealing organizations, that sought to overturn the 2010 ban.
Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield and Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who represents Nunavut in Parliament, denounced the decision in a joint statement.
"Our government's position has been clear: the ban on seal products adopted in the European Union was a political decision that has no basis in fact or science," they said.
The federal government said it will continue to pursue a trade challenge.
"We firmly believe this ban is contrary to the EU's World Trade Organization obligations and will continue to defend Canadian interests in this regard on the world stage. The Canadian government will continue to send a strong message that we are serious about defending our legitimate commercial seal harvest."
Sealers anxious after ruling
Canada has argued that the harp seal population has grown steadily over the years, and that the annual hunt - which draws protests each spring from animal welfare groups, which depict it as cruel and unnecessary - is needed to maintain balance in the marine ecosystem.
Frank Pinhorn, executive director of the Canadian Sealers Association, said the court decision creates even more uncertainty for the seal industry.
Pinhorn told CBC News it is not enough for government politicians to only say they support sealing.
"They [have] to demonstrate that the industry is viable and sustainable or, over time, it's going to wipe out the way of life that we're used to in rural parts of this province," said Pinhorn, who lives in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Pinhorn said the court ruling setback has more to do with politics in both the EU and Canada, rather than the facts about sealing.