Protecting Baltic seals

Geographical location:

Europe/Middle-East > -Regions- > Baltic Sea

Europe/Middle-East > Northern Europe > Finland

Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus), female and pup at a breeding site on the Cornwall coast. United Kingdom.
© WWF-Canon / Hélène PETIT


The Baltic Sea is a unique marine ecosystem, home to rich biodiversity and wildlife, including seals. But due to excessive hunting and pollution, grey and ringed seals in the region were decimated in the 1970s and 1980s. Although populations have slightly increased, they continue to be threatened.

WWF is working to help establish protected areas along the Finnish coast and elsewhere to ensure the survival of these threatened species. Seal population inventories are also being conducted in Finnish and Russian waters in the Gulf of Finland to assess their status.


Human greed has led to the decline of many seal populations. In the past, millions of seals were killed for their valuable meat, blubber, and hides. Seals are also killed in large numbers because fishermen blame them for the decline in fish.

The state of Baltic seal populations was very alarming in the 1970s and 1980s due to excessive hunting, environmental pollutants in the Baltic.

Research on Baltic seals and the conservation measures required have been planned and carried out in cooperation with Finnish, Swedish, Estonian and Russian projects.


- Produce up-to-date information on seals for protection measures and decision makers.

- Make inventories of the seal populations in Finnish and Russian waters in the Gulf of Finland.

- Help establish protected areas along the Finnish coast.

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