Here you will find concerns of our Association on international matters
Concerning the brutal way seals are killed in Canada and other countries
Seal hunting occurs in various parts of the world for commercial, subsistence and cultural reasons. Seal hunting is also carried out in some areas to avoid conflict with fisheries. At least 15 seal species are currently hunted, but the majority of hunted animals belong to five species: harp seals, ringed seals, grey seals, hooded seals and Cape fur seals.
The seal populations that are hunted for commercial purposes – which are estimated at approximately 15 million animals - are generally not endangered. Some 900,000 seals are hunted each year around the globe, with the commercial hunt in Canada , Greenland and Namibia accounting for some 60% of the seals killed each year. Hunting for commercial purposes also takes place in Russia and Norway . Around one third of the world trade in seal products either passes through or ends up in the EU market.
The European Union is concerned about the animal welfare aspects of the seal hunt. Doubts have been expressed about some of the methods used for hunting seals, as shooting, netting and clubbing can cause avoidable pain and distress. In the light of these concerns the European Commission presented a proposal in July 2008 to ban the trade in seal products into and out of the European Union. The aim of the proposed legislation is to ensure that no products derived from seals killed and skinned in ways that cause pain, distress and suffering find their way onto the European market. The objective is to help end seal hunting practices that inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on the animals.
Seal hunts around the world are governed by different rules and requirements. In some countries comprehensive systems are in place to minimise the conflict between production and animal welfare, while in others the seal hunt is regulated to a lesser degree. Within the EU, certain methods and means of capture and killing are prohibited in areas protected under the Habitats Directive. Several EU Member States are considering, or have already introduced, national legislative measures to ban the import and use of seal skins and seal products.
Furthermore, in autumn 2006, the European Parliament adopted a declaration requesting the European Commission to regulate the import, export and sale of all harp and hooded seal products, while ensuring that this regulation would not have an impact on traditional Inuit seal hunting.
This draft legislation is backed by a public consultation that was held from December 2007 to February 2008, the results of which can be seen in the impact assessment included below.
Existing EU legislation on seals
In response to widespread concerns about the annual killing of certain seal pups, Council Directive 83/129/EEC was adopted to prohibit the import of seal pup products into the EU.
It initially applied until 1 October 1985.
The products concern:
Raw furskins and furskins, tanned or dressed, including furskins assembled in plates, crosses and similar forms of whitecoat pups of harp seals and of pups of hooded seals (blue-backs).
The Directive directs Member States to take or maintain all necessary measures to ensure that the listed seal pup products are not commercially imported into their territory.
This Directive does not apply to products resulting from traditional hunting by the Inuit people.
In 1985 the Commission adopted Directive 85/444/EEC which extended the validity of the Directrive 83/129/EC until 1 October 1989. The Commission was asked to report after two years on the conservation status of the two seal species concerned and on the development of markets for Inuit produced sealskins and other sealskins not affected by the Directive.
In March 1988 the Commission submitted the report to the Council. In 1989 the indefinite extension of the Directive was adopted through Council Directive 89/370/EEC of 8 June 1989. Reasons for this include: