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Background information on Seal Pups Directive

Community measures:

In response to widespread concerns about the annual killing of certain seal pups, Council Directive 83/129/EEC was adopted to prohibit the import of seal pup products into the EU.
It initially applied until 1 October 1985.

The products concern: 

Raw furskins and furskins, tanned or dressed, including furskins assembled in plates, crosses and similar forms of whitecoat pups of harp seals and of pups of hooded seals (blue-backs).

The Directive directs Member States to take or maintain all necessary measures to ensure that the listed seal pup products are not commercially imported into their territory.

This Directive does not apply to products resulting from traditional hunting by the Inuit people.

In 1985 the Commission adopted Directive 85/444/EEC which extended the validity of the Directrive 83/129/EC until 1 October 1989. The Commission was asked to report after two years on the conservation status of the two seal species concerned and on the development of markets for Inuit produced sealskins and other sealskins not affected by the Directive.

In March 1988 the Commission submitted the report to the Council. In 1989 the indefinite extension of the Directive was adopted through Council Directive 89/370/EEC of 8 June 1989. Reasons for this include:

  • Doubts about the effects of non-traditional hunting on the conservation of harp seals in the East Atlantic, the Barents Sea and the White Sea;
  • Renewed public pressure;
  • The negative consequences that could be expected should the Directive not be extended.