At its meeting of 26 June, the Nordic Council of Ministers for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Agriculture, Food and Forestry (MR-FJLS)(1) discussed conservation and the use of seal stocks in the Baltic Sea and North Atlantic in the light of the current EU sea.
As a follow-up to the international conference on Seals and Society held in Vasa, Finland, 16 -18 October 2007, MR-FJLS stresses the importance of promoting balance between conservation and the use of seal stocks in the Baltic and North Atlantic.
The Vasa conference was arranged by the Nordic Council of Ministers in collaboration with HELCOM, NAMMCO, WWF and the Kvarken Council to discuss how resources and interactions should be managed in the Baltic and North Atlantic.
The Nordic Council of Ministers:
refers to the declaration on Baltic grey seals adopted by the Nordic and Baltic ministers for fisheries, agriculture, food and forestriesin 2006;
is concerned about recent developments within the EU in the wake of the European Parliament’s declaration of a ban on the trade in seal products within the Union, a move which represents a serious threat to local food traditions and small-scale industries that use the seals as a resource;
notes that seal stocks in the Baltic Sea and the North Atlantic represent an important resource for Nordic coastal communities;
is aware that in certain regions seal stocks will on occasion compete with coastal fisheries, resulting in reduced catches and damage to fishing equipment;
is also aware of the health benefits of marine fatty acids derived from seals and fish;
is concerned about the socio-economic development in certain ethnic minorities and coastal communities;
stresses the importance of achieving a balance, in a spirit of mutual understanding, between conservation and use by ethnic minorities and coastal communities;
reiterates the need for seal management planning and welcomes the work done within the frameworks of the HELCOM and NAMMCO regional conventions;
is convinced that the regional management organisations in the Baltic and North Atlantic are capable of ensuring effective conservation and use of marine resources while taking into account the needs of coastal communities and indigenous peoples;
encourages NAMMCO and HELCOM to continue to promote international collaboration on research and sustainable management of seal stocks;
encourages NAMMCO, in collaboration with member states that are engaged in seal hunting, to continue its efforts to improve seal-hunting methods;
appeals to the European Commission to work to achieve a balance between conservation and the use of seal stocks in the Baltic and North Atlantic, a balance that takes account of the interests of all stakeholders.
1 MR-FJLS is one of 11 councils in the Nordic Council of Ministers which is a cooperation between the governments in Denmark, the Faore Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Åland