Overturning seal ban won't create markets, insiders say
Court to rule this week on challenge to European Union's seal products ban
People involved in Canada's commercial seal industry are expressing hope that they will be able to overturn a European Union ban on seal products, but some fur industry insiders doubt there is much of a market left for seal in Europe.
On Thursday, the European Union general court is expected to rule on a challenge brought on by a number of organizations, including Inuit groups, sealers' associations, and the Fur Institute of Canada.
Gil Theriault, the seals and sealing network co-ordinator for the Fur Institute of Canada, said the ban imposed by European parliamentarians was more about politics than about a sound rational argument.
"We have a good chance to win it, because normally a panel of judges wouldn't be influenced by morals," said Theriault.
"They would be influenced by the legal aspects and definitely all the legal and rational aspects are on our side."
But even if the ban is struck down, some anti-sealing organizations and businesspeople who use fur have said they're skeptical that markets will re-open.
"We had many member states of the European Union that were outright prohibiting seal products or were moving towards that legislation," said Rebecca Aldworth, a director with Humane Society International.
"That's why the EU took action to harmonize their internal market and have an EU-wide ban on seal products."
Malcolm Scott, whose company for 85 years has used seal fur to manufacture sporrans, the furry pouches worn with Scottish kilts, said his business has been devastated by the EU ban.
Scott said if the ban is overturned, he doesn't expect a sudden European demand for seal products.
"I don't think there'll be any change in policy whatsoever because there was such a huge majority within the European Parliament wanting to bring the ban in," he said.
Scott predicts the Europeans will stick with the ban for political reasons, even if it means having to pay penalties.
With files from Vik Adhopia