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BBC World Service

Sealskin ban puts ruffle in Scottish kilts

Rebecca Singer Sep 22, 2010
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BBC World Service

Sealskin ban puts ruffle in Scottish kilts

Rebecca Singer Sep 22, 2010
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TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Over in Scotland, there’s a big debate over how to continue making the sporran. That’s the little pouch the Scottish use as an
accessory bag for their kilts. For centuries, the sporran’s been made of sealskin. The European Union recently banned the use of sealskin.

But a loophole in that law could help save sporran production, as the BBC’s Rebecca Singer reports.


REBECCA SINGER: Since the ban was introduced Scotland’s kilt makers have had to rely on existing stocks. And they’ve reluctantly been turning to alternatives like pony skin, rabbit and badger.

Duncan Chisholm is the founding member of the Scottish Kilt Makers’ Association.

DUNCAN CHISHOLM: There’s many other skins that we’ve used in the past, but certainly in comparison to the seal skin — it’s got a beautiful texture, the quality and the luster to it that many of these other skins just don’t have.

But the kilt-making industry is excited about early discussions it’s been having with Inuit communities in Northern Canada. The EU banned seal products from commercial hunts in order to protect seals from pain and distress. But it also acknowledged the economic and social importance of the seal trade to indigenous people. So sealskins from the Inuits will be allowed into Europe.

But Chisholm warns that even if the deal with the Inuit communities works out the cost of sealskin sporrans could go up and the quality may not be quite what his customers are used to.

In London, I’m the BBC’s Rebecca Singer for Marketplace.

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