The European Parliament has voted to approve an EU Regulation that would ban trading in products derived from seals, including their skins, meat, oil, blubber and organs. The proposed Regulation aims to eliminate trade in products derived from commercial seal hunts, but would exempt subsistence seal hunting by Inuit and other indigenous communities.

The proposed Regulation was overwhelmingly approved in the Parliament and must now be approved by Member States. Several Member States, however, have reportedly already signalled support for the measure and the ban is expected to take effect next year.

Major exporting countries of seal products have voiced opposition to the ban, most notably Canada and Norway. Canada is the world’s largest exporter of seal products. It has reportedly threatened to initiate a case against the European Union at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the proposed Regulation, unless Canada is exempted from the bans. Norway has likewise made apparent threats to take the European Union to the WTO over the proposed Regulation.