Sealing in the Baltic was interrupted at the end of the 1970s because of the threat to seal populations resulting from a combination of over-hunting and chemical contamination caused by the use of the synthetic pesticide DDT and PBTs ("persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic" compounds).
Since the 1990s sealing has begun to make a comeback. This has been particularly so in the Gulf of Finland, due to the large increase in the seal population (now estimated at 18,000) and growing alarm over the damage they cause to fishing gear and fish resources.
This revitalisation of sealing has been co-financed by the European Union as part of the Interreg III Kvarken-MittSkandia programme for sealing in Finland and Sweden, with participation by Norway. The programme aims to promote the image of the seal so that it is no longer perceived as a harmful species and a threat to fishermen, but rather as a source of revenue. The programme includes the organisation of courses on the treatment and use of the pelts and meat (traditional activities), improving safety at sea during hunting trips, and hunting methods.
The national authorities involved set annual quotas and have also implemented control methods.
Of a total of €23.9 million allocated to the Kvarken-MittSkandia programme for the period 2000-06, the "seal" section received €315,641.3 between 2001 and 2003, 50% of which came from the EU budget. An extra sum of €100,000 has been allocated to the programme's extension from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, 2007.