Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1). Protected in Britain under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970 (closed season from 1 September until 31st December) (3) and schedule 3 of the Conservation Regulations (1994) (4). Listed as a protected species under Annex II and Annex V of the European Community's Habitats Directive. The eastern Atlantic population is listed under Appendix III of the Bern Convention. Subpopulations in the Baltic and Wadden Seas are listed under Appendix II of the Bonn Convention (5).