I did some further research into the seal trade issue and it seems to be a protectionist stance masquerading as a moral/ animal rights issue. The total global seal hunt numbers are inconceivably small to warrant a continental ban. Globally, around 900,000 seals are hunted annually and Canadian quotas are about half of global seal hunt numbers, which are rarely reached. The North Atlantic seal population alone hovers around 7-8 million. EU bans on Canadian commercial seal products seem to be reinstated whenever Inuit communities approach the quotas… which suggests Inuit products may be starting to crowd the EU market, competing with other luxury fur products. Russia also introduced a ban on Canadian seal products in 2011. Seal hunting for the Inuit is the equivalent to beef in the mainstream west. Should entire continents ban Canada’s export of beef, the industry would likely similarly implode. The resulting food scarcity in these communities, however, does not seem to be enough for it to become a priority on Canada’s trade agenda.
Another consideration is that Greenpeace and IFAW function similarly to multinational companies and contribute tax revenues to all the countries they operate in (including Canada). Unless their complicity is made apparent, it does not appear to be in their interest to correct this misconception.
source: Seal Range State Policy Management Review (2015)
After sitting on an arts council jury and advisory panel for media arts organizations (many were film festivals) earlier this year, I experience film festivals through a finely tuned lens. ImagiNative has such a great vibe… feels like such a close-knit community, even though everyone is spread around the world in remote places. Everyone genuinely wants to help and support each other here.
Just attended the Gala Opening of “Angry Inuk” at the ImagiNative Film Festival.
A revealing documentary of how organizations like Greenpeace/ IFAW have profited off (intentionally) misinformed activism around the issue of Canadian Inuit groups killing seal pups… hunting white coats has been illegal in Canada for over 30 years. Inuit communities subsist on older seals, caribou, wolf, etc for food, clothing, and other household uses… bi-products of which are sold commercially on the international market to support these communities and preserve their traditional ways of life. Since the 60s, animal rights organizations have (admittedly) exploited the image of the seal pup to garner millions in fundraising revenue. They admit seal pups are the best image to use for people to loosen the purse strings in the interests of animal rights. Seal species in the Canadian north aren’t even on the endangered species list. In fact their population has grown exponentially in the last few decades.
The European ban on seal products, which continues to economically devastate the Inuit peoples, relies on a western assumption that there is a division between subsistence and commercial activities… a division which in-fact does not exist in these communities.
Based on the documentary, should the Inuit people be unable to overturn the European ban on seal products, they will likely need to acquiesce to oil drilling in the Arctic to economically sustain themselves and their culture. In recent years, there has been a race between Canada, Denmark, Russia and Greenland (and others) to prove their claim to the North Pole for drilling rights and access to this mineral-rich part of the world. Under Canadian sovereignty laws, Canada cannot drill in the Arctic without the agreement from First Nations groups… something they’ve always been against. Due to a continued European ban on seal products, they may, however, be faced with no other choice.
A really well-researched and well-told documentary…
Watch an hour-long version here…