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Trade in seal products

Prohibiting the placing of seal products on the EU market


The Trade in Seal Products Regulation prohibits the placing of seal products on the EU market, with two exceptions.


In 1983, the EU adopted the Seal Pups Directive outlining measures on how EU countries could ensure that skins and derived products from pups of harp seals and hooded seals (blue-backs) would not be commercially imported into their territory. It does not apply to products resulting from traditional hunting by the Inuit people.

Since 2009, the Trade in Seal Products Basic Regulation has prohibited the placing of seal products on the EU market. The Regulation has been amended in 2015 to reflect the outcomes of World Trade Organization rulings in the EC-Seal products case.

The trade ban applies to seal products produced in the EU and to imported seal products, with two exceptions.

The placing on the EU market is allowed for seal products that qualify under the “Inuit and other indigenous communities” exception, provided several conditions are fulfilled and these products are accompanied by an official document attesting their origin. This is because seal hunts traditionally conducted by the Inuit and other indigenous communities contribute to the subsistence of these communities and as such do not raise the same public moral concerns as seal hunts conducted primarily for commercial reasons.

The second exemption allows the import of seal products where it is of an occasional nature and consists exclusively of goods for the personal use of travellers or their families.


An Implementing Regulation provides for the recognition of government bodies mandated to certify compliance with the conditions for benefiting from the "Inuit or other indigenous communities” exception, and to issue the attesting documents that should accompany the seal products.

The following bodies have been recognised so far:

The Implementing Regulation also provides for the EU Member States to designate their competent authorities.

Reports on the implementation of the EU Regulation on Trade in Seal Products

The Commission four-yearly reports to the European Parliament and the Council are based on the reports submitted by the EU Member States and the recognised bodies in Canada and Greenland. A first Commission Report was adopted in 2020 and a second Commission Report in 2023.

Remark : In Finland and Sweden, the quotas are set for a hunting season and not by calendar year. The hunting season starts in autumn and ends the following year in spring. In the second Report, the number of seals hunted in Sweden corresponds to the hunting season, and therefore also includes the autumn of 2018 and the spring of 2023. After the publication of the Report, Sweden communicated the number of seals hunted per calendar year for the period 2029-2022. These number are taken over in the graph below.

Related links

Main law: Trade in Seal Products Basic Regulation

Related law: Seal Pups Directive

Related topics: Nature and biodiversity, Wildlife trade

Related strategies: Biodiversity strategy for 2030

Related Commission priorities: European Green Deal


For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.