Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Sport,
Youth and Environment

GR-C(2007)16 7 August 20071

“Seal hunting”
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1776 (2006)
Opinion of the Bureau of the Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention)

Item to be prepared by the GR-C on 11 September 2007

Opinion of the Bureau of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention
(Adopted at the meeting of the Bureau on 26-30 November 2007)

The Bureau of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention:

1. welcomes the interest of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in the conservation of the harp seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus) and the hooded seal (Cystophora cristata), both species listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention as “protected fauna species”;

2. notes that exploitation of species listed in Appendix III of the Convention is not prohibited, but subject to certain conditions aimed to ensure their conservation;

3. notes that, under Article 7.2 of the Bern Convention, Parties are requested to regulate any exploitation of wild fauna species specified in Appendix III so as to keep populations out of danger and that measures to be taken shall include:

a. closed seasons and/or other procedures regulating the exploitation;
b. the temporary of local prohibition of exploitation, as appropriate, in other to restore satisfactory population levels;
c. the regulation as appropriate of sale, keeping for sale, transport or offering for sale of live and dead wild animals;

4. encourages all states to take a precautionary approach to the conservation of marine mammals 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;

5. shares the concern of the Parliamentary Assembly that animals subject to exploitation have to be culled humanely avoiding cruel hunting methods;

6. encourages all member states and observer states to the Council of Europe to collaborate in promoting policies that ensure the conservation of seals and other marine mammals in the appropriate international framework, including the Bern Convention, the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas and the International Whaling Commission;

7. encourages all member states and observer states of the Council of Europe to support scientific research on seal conservation, on the impact of culling and on their role in marine ecosystems, furthermore recommends to improve monitoring of seal populations and states their vulnerability to climate change;

8. notes that the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention decided not to include marine species in the drafting of the European Hunting and Biodiversity Charter, in the understanding that other appropriate fora exist for the regulation of the exploitation of those species;

9. invites the Russian Federation and other member states that are not already Parties to the Bern Convention to consider its signature and ratification;

10. invites Canada to establish appropriate 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.

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 set out in Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.



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