“The sealskin vest I am wearing is the result of Inuit carrying out their economy and livelihood. By doing this and doing it sustainably, we are setting a positive example to the world”.
– Sheila Watt-Cloutier, former president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council and nominee for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize
Sealing is a valuable model of the sustainable use of a renewable resource. Inuit hunters know the consequences of reckless hunting and want to ensure this resource is available to future generations.
Inuit use the term Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, the Inuit way of knowing, to inform traditional knowledge of wildlife. This age-old respect for environmental balance and concern for the future not only ensures the preservation of the Inuit culture but also protects the population of seals.
The harvest of seal is important to the economic well-being and essential to the socio-cultural fabric of small coastal communities where developmental alternatives to the renewable sector are rarely sustainable.
Any true and sustainable conservation initiative must respect the critical balance of nature, rights of sovereign nations and value of cultural diversity.
There are three key principles guiding the seal harvest in Nunavut:
- Sustainable Harvest (in both biological and economic terms). The resource must be protected from over-harvesting and managed to maintain the place of seals within the total ecosystem.
- Complete Use. The meat provides food, the pelts are used for clothing and the oil is a rich source of omega-3 acids.
- Humane Harvest. Seals must be treated with respect and hunted only for what is needed. The kill is clean and quick.