Norway critical to the EU’s proposed ban on trade in seal products


Norwegian Seal Skin Boots.

The EU is close to adopting a trade ban on seal products that may be incompatible with international trade rules. The European Parliament will vote on the proposed trade ban during the plenary session in Strasbourg from 4 to 7 May. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre believes such a ban will affect Norway unfairly.  

Jonas Gahr Støre comments: “An EU ban on trade in seal products threatens our ability to manage our marine resources.  Norwegian sealing comprises a sustainable and modern approach to the harvesting of marine resources. We presume that the EU takes due account of the scientific basis for Norwegian sealing. The proposed ban is a serious and fundamental challenge to a close partner of the EU.” 

Mr Støre now urges the EU member states to take full account of the scientific facts when making their decision. The European Commission’s own impact assessment describes Norwegian sealing methods as fully acceptable. The seal hunt is supervised by official inspectors, and the hunters have to pass annual shooting tests. Norwegian sealing is probably the most regulated and best controlled form of hunting practised anywhere in the world.  

The proposed ban may constitute a dangerous precedent for trade in animal products that are harvested in a sustainable and ethical way. Norway reiterates its willingness to cooperate with the European Commission on the development of an international standard for seal hunting.  

“We should be able to expect mutual and committing cooperation for the management of marine resources from our closest partner. A ban on trade in seal products would, in our view, run counter to the EU’s international trade obligations. In order to safeguard Norwegian interests, we have therefore informed the EU that we will request consultations under the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism if the EU introduces an extensive ban,” Mr Støre adds.

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