Inuit seal hunters in Nunavut won't need to worry about rule changes being proposed by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, an official says.
The new regulations, quietly posted in a government publication over the weekend, propose banning the use of a traditional hakipik — a spiked club — on seals over one year old unless they had been shot first with a firearm.
The rules would also force Canadian sealers to ensure the mammals are dead before hooking and skinning them.
But Barry Rashotte, director general of resource management for DFO in Ottawa, told CBC News that the proposed rules apply only to sealers hunting with commercial licences, not to beneficiaries of land claims or those hunting for cultural or subsistence reasons.
"The current regulations exempt in Areas 1 to 4 — which is basically southern Labrador north — it exempts Inuit and Indians and beneficiaries of land claims and residents of the area from holding a licence to fish for food, social or ceremonial purposes," Rashotte said Tuesday.
"Whereas in the southern areas, you need a licence to do that."
Stakeholders have 30 days to comment on the proposed new rules.
The department will then decide whether to incorporate those comments into the proposed rules before making them official.
Rashotte said the goal is to implement the new rules before the commercial seal hunt on Canada's East Coast begins in March, and before the European Union imposes a ban on importing seal products.