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A restauranter on the Hel peninsula, on the North coast of Poland, would like to add seal to the menu, causing outrage from environmental groups.

image Baltic grey seal

The Baltic grey seal

As all three species of seal in the Baltic sea are endangered, it could prove tough to do. The EU has banned bulk commercial imports, so if he was to source seal meat it would have to come from neighbouring countries such as Denmark, where it’s sold at retail.

Hel peninsula is an ironic location to talk about serving up seal meat, given that one of the biggest local tourist attractions just around the corner from the village, is the “Fokarium Hel” seal colony, established in 1999 to aid with increasing the seal population.

Restaurant owner Piotr Lisakowski claims seal on the menu is not a new idea, it was a regular menu item in the 1950’s, he is motivated by tradition and cultural heritage. His restaurant wants to feature traditional cultural dishes such as seal. He says:

It’s just that I do not abandon our roots. The seal population is growing, so it seems to me that it might go back this tradition [adding] in any case, I do not want to reduce the population of seals in the Baltic Sea.

Paul Średziński from WWF Poland makes it clear he thinks this is a mistake:

You would have to wonder whether this is a serious proposition, or just an idea for a publicity stunt.
..In the Baltic Sea there live three species of seal, and they are all protected, so he probably doesn’t know what he’s talking about, because they can’t be killed.
..The serving of this meat would seem even more unusual, given that it’s so hard in the seaside restaurants to find fish from the Baltic region.

Seal is still hunted in Greenland and Canada, where one can even find restaurants serving raw seal-heart. Bulk import to the EU stopped five years ago.

There are plenty of opponents to reintroducing seal meat, and not for environmental reasons. Older locals interviewed remember when it used to be served, and say that it just doesn’t taste that great.

 
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