The defeat of proposed bans on commercial sealing and the international polar bear trade gives some welcome breathing space to Inuit and other Arctic hunting peoples—at least for now.
A proposal to prohibit international commercial trade in polar bears would do little to protect an already well-protected animal further, but much to damage Inuit economic rights and interests.
Northerners shouldn’t worry that Canada will abandon its challenge to the EU’s seal-trade ban in favour of a free-trade deal with the EU, but they should worry instead about the damage the ban has done to the very idea of Inuit as economic actors in the modern marketplace.
An update on this column’s coverage so far—mostly of the disquieting potential consequences for Northerners of proposals to ban various economic activities in the Arctic.
Senator Mac Harb’s bill to end the seal hunt provides us an opportunity to look at the international political economy of the seal trade—with emphasis on the political.