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Trade in seal products

Regulation (EC) No 1007/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on trade in seal products (the Basic Regulation) prohibits the placing on the EU market of seal products.

The trade ban applies to seal products produced in the EU and to imported seal products. The Basic Regulation was amended by Regulation (EU) 2015/1775 in order to reflect the outcomes of World Trade Organization (WTO) rulings in the EC-Seal products case.

As a result, the current EU seal regime provides for two exceptions to the ban:

  1. It allows the placing on the market of seal products where those products come from hunts conducted by Inuit or other indigenous communities, provided the specific conditions set out in Article 3(1) of the Basic Regulation, as amended, are fulfilled.

    Article 3(1a) of the same Regulation, as amended, also provides that, at the time of its placing on the EU market, a seal product shall be accompanied by a document attesting compliance with the conditions set out for benefiting from the "Inuit or other indigenous communities exception". The attesting document should be issued by a body recognised for that purpose by the European Commission, in accordance with Article 3 of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/1850 (the Implementing Regulation).

  2. It also 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 (Article 3(2) of the Basic Regulation, as amended).

Article 6 of the Implementing Regulation provides for the Member States to designate their competent authorities. These can be found in the:

List of competent authorities in accordance with Article 6 of Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/1850

Article 3 of the Implementing Regulation provides for the recognition of attesting bodies. Here is the list of bodies recognised as of 26 October 2015:

Greenland Department of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture / Departementet for Fiskeri, Fangst og Landbrug (APNN)

Postboks 269, 3900 NUUK, Greenland

Department of Environment, Government of Nunavut (Canada) P.O. Box 1000, Stn. 1300, Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0, Canada

Government of the Northwest Territories of Canada

P.O. Box 1320, Yellowknife NT X1A 2L9, Canada

 

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

Article 7 of the Basic Regulation, as amended, stipulates that Member States shall submit to the Commission a report outlining the actions taken to implement this Regulation over a given four-year period. The first reporting period was from 18 October 2015 (date of application of Regulation (EU) 2015/1775) to 31 December 2018. The 28 EU Member States were given until 30 June 2019 to provide their national reports to the Commission, through answering an online questionnaire. All but four EU Member States (France, Greece, Luxembourg and Malta) contributed. The provided answers can be found under the country tags below:

au be bg cs cy da de et es fi hr ir it lv lt hu nl pl pt ro sk sl sv uk

Four Member States provided annexes to their report:

dk annex hr annex sk annex sv annex

In parallel, the three recognised bodies were asked to answer an online questionnaire with a specific focus on the "Inuit or other indigenous communities” exception. The reporting period for Greenland and Nunavut was from 26 October 2015 to 31 December 2018, and for the Northwest Territories of Canada, from 14 February 2017 to 31 December 2018.

Their contributions can be found below:

Greenland: 

 

 

Response to the questionnaire

Attesting documents

Sealing background data


Nunavut: 

 

Response to the questionnaire

Attesting documents


Northwest Territories:  Response to the questionnaire

 

Article 7 also stipulates that, based on the above reports, the Commission shall then submit to the European Parliament and to the Council a report on the implementation of the Regulation. The first Commission Report has been adopted on 10 January 2020 and is available here in all EU languages. Please note that the section “Conclusions - Implementation by the EU Member States” does not entirely reflect the Danish reply to the questionnaire.

Expert Group meeting on Trade in Seal Products

On 21 January 2020, the Commission organised a Meeting of the Expert Group of the CITES Management Authorities dedicated to Trade in Seal Products. The Commission presented the main conclusions of the Commission Report on the implementation of the EU Regulation on Trade in Seal Products. The afternoon session focused on the “Inuit or other indigenous communities” exception. Four EU Member States and the Recognised Bodies of Canada and Greenland were given the floor to describe the situation on their territory and express their concerns. The following documents are available here and on the Transparency Register of Commission Expert Groups: the  agenda of the meeting, the presentation by the Commission for the morning session, the presentation by the Commission for the afternoon session, and a summary record of the meeting.

The EU seal regime

The European Union allows the placing of seal products on the market where those products come from hunts conducted by Inuit or other indigenous communities, provided that certain conditions set out in EU law are fulfilled.

A seal product carrying a specific QR Code label and accompanied by its attesting document, issued by one of the above recognised bodies, can be placed on the EU market.

EU seal regime fact sheets

български čeština dansk Deutsch eesti keel ελληνικά English español françaishrvatski italiano latviešu valoda lietuvių kalba magyar Malti Nederlands polski português română slovenčina slovenščina suomi svenska

Other existing EU legislation on seals:

  • Seal Pups Directive, adopted in 1983, prohibits the import of certain seal pup products into the EU
  • Habitats Directive allows - under strict conditions - the hunting of seals belonging to specific seal populations

Additional information

Article 3(3) of the Basic Regulation provides for a Technical guidance note setting out an indicative list of the codes of the Combined Nomenclature that may cover prohibited seal products.

More information on the legislative history of the legislation on trade in seal products can be found here.

The Previous list of recognised bodies authorised by the Commission under repealed Regulation (EU) No 737/2010 is no longer valid but the certificates issued before 18 October 2015 by bodies appearing on this list remain valid after this date.