Nunavut hunters, artists pleased with EU seal hunt exemption

Nunavut hunters and artists are excited about the lifting of a six-year ban on their seal products in the EU. However, a seal hunters association director says that even with the exemption, their products may fare better in Asia.

Even with EU exemption, products might fare better in Asia says director of seal hunters association

Artist Mona Netser makes dolls and clothing from seal products. She hopes the EU exemption for Nunavut's seal hunt will increase demand for her products. (CBC)

After a six-year ban, Nunavut hunters can once again sell sealskins on the European market.

The Nunavut government says this should help make hunting more affordable, and seal meat more accessible.

But not everyone is on board with the plan.

Gil Thériault, the director of the Magdalen Island Seal Hunters Association, says it would take decades to reconquer European markets.

"The Europeans have made it clear politically and publicly that they don`t want seal products ... what's the point?" he said.

He says the costs for marketing and lobbying to European countries will cost taxpayers million of dollars for nothing.

On the other hand, Thériault says the demand for seal products in Asia is skyrocketing, and that those markets should be the focus.

"They're crazy about it," he said. "South Korea, Japan, China ... China is hugely interested but what's holding things up is politics." 

Thériault says targeting Europe might make political sense to the federal government, but that it's a bad business decision.

He says he hopes government will start focusing on developing more economic ties with Asian countries.

Artists, hunters supportive

Nunavummiut hunters and artists, however, are pleased with the news. They're hoping this will mean increased demand for their products.

"I believe it's going to help us a lot because we'll be able to sell our sealskin more easily," said Mona Netser, an artist living in Iqaluit.

"If there's more demand for me, I'm happy." 

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