Animal Welfare aspects of the killing and skinning of seals - Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Animal Health and Welfare


Panel on Animal Health and Welfare
Panel members at the time of adoption
The Scientific Panel for Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) of the European Food Safety Authority adopted the current Scientific Opinion on 6 December 2007. The Members of the AHAW Scientific Panel were: Bo Algers, Harry J. Blokhuis, Donald M. Broom, Patrizia Costa, Mariano Domingo, Mathias Greiner, Daniel Guemene, Jörg Hartung, Frank Koenen, Christine Muller-Graf, David B. Morton, Albert Osterhaus, Dirk U. Pfeiffer, Ron Roberts, Moez Sanaa, Mo Salman, J. Michael Sharp, Philippe Vannier, Martin Wierup, Marion Wooldridge.

The European Food Safety Authority on behalf the Scientific Panel on Animal Health and
Welfare wishes to thank the Working Group for preparing the Scientific Report, which has
been used as a basis of this Scientific Opinion. The working group was chaired by the AHAW
Panel Member Prof David B. Morton. Members of the Working Group were:
Morton, D.B. (Chairman); Ersbøll, A.K., Nunes Pina, T. (Risk Assessors); Algers, B.; Boyd I.;
Daoust, P-Y; Hartung, J.; Kirkman, S.P., Lambooij, B.; Lavigne, D. M.; Raj, M.; Stenson, G.B..
Prof. Egil Ole Øen and Prof. Tore Haug are gratefully acknowledged for their valuable
comments and contributions. Prof. Temple Grandin is also acknowledged for her comments
and valuable remarks.
The AHAW Panel also would like to thank the stakeholders organisations for the valuable
comments and suggestions provided on the draft Scientific Opinion and for the enormous
amount of information provided (including video material) which was evaluated by the WG
Members and when considered pertinent included in the Scientific Opinion.
The AHAW Panel acknowledges the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety, that,
following a general request for input by the EFSA Advisory Forum, adopted a Scientific
Opinion on animal welfare aspects of the killing and skinning of seals in the Norwegian hunt,
which was taken into consideration in this Scientific Opinion.
The scientific coordination for this Scientific Opinion has been undertaken by the EFSA
AHAW Panel Scientific Officers E. Aiassa, S. Barbieri and O. Ribó.

Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel
Question Number
6 December 2007
19 December 2007
Last Updated
15 February 2008. This version replaces the previous one/s.
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy
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In September 2006, the Council of Europe adopted a recommendation on seal hunting inviting member and observer states to ban all cruel seal hunting methods and to prohibit the stunning of animals with instruments such as hakapiks, bludgeons and guns. A written declaration was then adopted by the European Parliament requesting the Commission to draft a regulation to ban the import, export and sale of all harp and hooded seal products, whilst ensuring that this measure would not have an impact on traditional hunting (e.g. Inuit). The Commission undertook to make an assessment of the animal welfare aspects of the killing and skinning of seals and asked EFSA to issue a scientific opinion on this matter as well as to assess the most appropriate killing methods which reduce unnecessary pain, distress and suffering.

EFSA’s Scientific Opinion was adopted by the Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) on 6 December 2007. The Opinion critically evaluated the available evidence but little robust information was found that could be considered scientifically valid, robust and objective, and that had not been obtained without some form of bias, or there was a lack of independent verification. Nevertheless, it was possible to look objectively at the different methods used, their inherent advantages and disadvantages, their use in practice, and to draw some conclusions and recommendations. Ethical, social, cultural, economic and some relevant management aspects do not form part of this opinion (as they are outside EFSA’s remit).

seal welfare, stunning, killing, bleeding, skinning, seal hunting, consciousness, unconsciousness.
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