Iqaluit, Nunavut, March 13, 2006

Speaking recently on the Larry King Live show, globally-known singer and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney urged Canada to ban commercial seal harvesting. Calling sealing barbaric and archaic, he suggested to Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, that Canada buy out the sealers and promote seal watching instead.

Today, Ms. Sheila Watt-Cloutier, elected Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), and Mr. Duane Smith, President of ICC Canada, urged the Government of Canada to reject Sir Pauls advice and to mount a campaign in Europe and the United States to counter his misinformation about the seal hunt.

Ms. Sheila Watt-Cloutier said: laying down on the sea ice and playing with seals is, frankly, silly and it is also disrespectful to wildlife. Seals may look cute, but they are not pets, they are animals that live in the wild.  Inuit hunt seals for food and clothing, and we market internationally the by-products of our sustainable hunt. This is why attacking the commercial harvest on Canadas east coast and attempting to destroy the market for seal products also affects the Inuit seal hunt in the Arctic. Inuit have not been urged by east coast sealers to respond to Sir Paul McCartney, as some animal rights organizations have suggested.

Ms. Watt-Cloutier added: Global wildlife organizations such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) note that seals are not endangered. The World Trade Organization allows unrestricted trade in seal products for seals are not listed as endangered under the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Mr. Smith added: Our hunting is sustainable. It is the right of Inuit as an aboriginal people to continue hunting as we have always done.

Ms. Watt-Cloutier said: If Sir Paul really wants to save the seals he should help us stop climate change which is destroying sea icethe habitat of seals. Finally, Ms. Watt-Cloutier and Mr. Smith endorsed and repeated the invitation by Mr. Aqqaluk Lynge, President of ICC Greenland, to Sir Paul McCartney to come to the Arctic to learn what seal hunting means to Inuit.

For additional information contact:

Ms. Sheila Watt-Cloutier, 867-979-4661;
Mr. Duane Smith, 867-777-4201