A key part of IFAW’s work to protect seals is to end the trade in seal products.
Thanks to years of campaign work exposing the cruelty of commercial seal hunts, in 1983 Europe banned the importation of products from “whitecoat” harp seals—seal pups less than two weeks old—saving more than a million newborn seals from slaughter over the following decade.
In 2009, the European Union banned the importation of all seal products, with an exemption for Inuit products, saving the lives of even more seals. Then in 2011, the Customs Union of the Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan banned the import and export of harp seal skins. Taiwan followed in 2013.
In China and other parts of Asia, thanks in part to our continued efforts, there is now growing opposition to products derived from cruel seal hunts.
We are campaigning to ensure that Asian consumers are aware of the cruelty involved in commercial seal hunts and that new markets for seal products do not emerge.
Our work, supported by millions of like-minded, caringindividuals around the world, has helped bring about trade bans in 35 countries and reduce the demand for seal products to historically low levels.
Together we will continue the fight until the trade in seal products ends and the killing stops.
Timeline of shrinking markets
1972 US Congress passes the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which bans the importation of seal products.
1983 IFAW helps win a crucial ban in Europe on the importation of whitecoat harp seal and blueback hooded seal products.
1987 Canadian Government bans commercial hunting of newborn harp seals (whitecoats) and hooded seal pups (bluebacks) in Canadian waters.
1990 With IFAW’s encouragement, South Africa ends the hunt for Cape fur seals.
2006 Mexico bans the import and export of marine mammals, including seals.
2007 An IFAW campaign results in Belgium and the Netherlands adopting national bans on the import of seal products.
2009 Russia bans the killing of harp seals under 12 months old.
2011 The Customs Union of the Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan bans the import and export of harp seal skins.
2009-2014 The EU bans the import of all seal products, with an exemption for Inuit, and the World Trade Organization finds the ban compliant.
2015 European Parliament votes in WTO-compliant seal product trade regulation changes.