Adoption of the Dutch Positive List for mammal pets delayed
A preliminary version of the Positive List was published in 2015: a list detailing the mammal species that are allowed to be kept as pets in the Netherlands. Earlier this year, on 30 January 2017, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs made public its decision on the draft Positive List, defining also the conditions in which an animal should be kept. Any animal not on the list of 123 species presented by the Ministry was no longer allowed with a grandfather clause (transitional provisions are included and private owners of companion animals are allowed to keep their animal until the end of its natural life). However, on 28th March the Dutch ‘College van Beroep voor het Bedrijfsleven’ (CBb), the highest Administrative Court for Animal Welfare issues in the Netherlands, issued a verdict establishing that the committee of experts who assessed the species to be included in the list drafted in 2015, is not impartial. The lawsuit was initiated by the pet keepers’ association, even though they were among the members of the committee, along with representatives from traders, scientists and animal welfare organisations, including Eurogroup for Animals member organisations AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection and Dierenbescherming.
Within four weeks from now on, the Minister will consult a new group of experts, including international ones, and a new assessment procedure will be set.
A Positive List is a clear, concise list of exotic species that can be kept as pets, on the basis of scientific risk assessments which remains open for review under specific and strict conditions and establishes unambiguous exceptions. Eurogroup for Animals member organisation AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection has been advocating for more than 25 years for a Positive List in The Netherlands. The delay on the adoption of the final list is therefore bad news for the welfare of the exotic animals in private households and involved in the trade to private households. The Netherlands is the second EU member state to adopt a Positive List legislation, after Belgium, and the finalisation of the list was therefore long-awaited.
The CBb verdict has effects – according to the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs – on the ongoing decision-making process and it prevents to make a solid final decision to install a new Positive List for mammals from the 1st of July on. Therefore a new decision-making process will be designed and followed. This will cause a delay in implementation of about half a year. However, the legal concept of a Positive List is not under discussion. The choice of a science- based risk assessment of species has not been challenged and continues to be a reference for other countries that are adopting, or planning to adopt, a Positive List system to better regulate the exotic pet trade. Most importantly, the process in the Netherlands is postponed, not stopped: the political willingness to adopt a Positive List stays confirmed. The legal possibility to establish a PL in the Dutch Law is not affected by the verdict of CBb.
We trust that the Ministry will respect the communicated timeline, and a final Positive List will have legal force by the end of 2017.
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