CM/AS(2007)Rec1776 prov 7 August 20071
1005 Meeting, 26 September 2007
9 Sustainable development
9.2 “Seal hunting”
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1776 (2006)
Item to be prepared by the GR-C on 11 September 2007
1. The Committee of Ministers has taken note of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1776 (2006) – “Seal hunting”. It has brought it to the attention of the governments of the member and observer states and transmitted it to the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention. The comments of the Bureau ot the Standing Committee have been taken into consideration in the present reply.
2. The Committee of Ministers thanks the Assembly for its interest in the conservation of the harp seal and the hooded seal, both species being listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention as “protected fauna species”. It recalls that exploitation of species listed in the said appendix is not prohibited, but subject to certain conditions aimed to ensure their conservation. Article 7.3 of the Bern Convention, provides that Parties to the Convention are requested to regulate any exploitation of wild fauna species specified in Appendix III so as to keep populations out of danger. Measures to be taken in this connection shall include (a) closed seasons and/or other procedures regulating the exploitation; (b) the temporary of local prohibition of exploitation, as appropriate, in order to restore satisfactory population levels; and (c) the regulation as appropriate of sale, keeping for sale, transport or offering for sale of live and dead wild animals.
3. On the basis of these standards, concerning conservation of marine mammals, the Committee of Ministers encourages member and observer states to take a precautionary approach taking into account that, even if at present none of the two seal species are threatened, climate change is likely to have a long-term negative impact on their survival.
4. The Committee of Ministers shares the view of the Assembly that animals subject to exploitation be hunted and culled humanely avoiding cruel methods.
5. In addition to the environmental and political aspects of the issue, the Committee of Ministers also wishes to emphasise its social, cultural and human aspects. Seal hunting is of crucial importance for preserving the living conditions and livelihood of Inuit people who are also struck badly by climate changes in their primary environment.
6. The Committee of Ministers recalls the orientations given by the Third Summit Action Plan with a view to providing sustainable development. In this context, it encourages member and observer states to collaborate at international level in setting up policies that ensure the conservation of seals and other marine mammals, in particular through the Bern Convention and other relevant international instruments. It acknowledges the importance of scientific research on seal conservation, on the impact of culling and on their role in marine ecosystems.
7. The Committee of Ministers encourages those member states which are not yet parties to the Bern Convention to consider signing or ratifying it. It furthermore invites Canada, as an observer state to the Council of Europe, to establish any useful mechanisms of co-operation with other states sharing populations of hooded seals and harp seals and with the Bern Convention, aiming at ensuring that both species maintain their populations in a favourable conservation status.
8. Concerning the Assembly’s proposal made in paragraph 13.4 of its recommendation, the Committee of Ministers wishes to inform the Assembly that the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention did not consider appropriate to include marine species in the drafting of the European Hunting and Biodiversity Charter, on the understanding that other appropriate fora exist for the regulation of the exploitation of those species.
Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue. Unless the Committee of Ministers decides otherwise, it will be declassified according to the rules laid down in Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.