Stop the Seal Hunt in Namibia
  • Petitioned Hon. Dr. Abraham Iyambo

This petition was delivered to:

Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources
Hon. Dr. Abraham Iyambo
President of Namibia
Hon. Hifikepunye Pohamba
U.S. Senate

Stop the Seal Hunt in Namibia

    1. Petition by

      C H

      Gelsenkirchen, Germany

Namibian Cape Fur Seal Hunt
Namibia seal pup carcassesThis year is the third year that the Namibian government has authorized the slaughter of 85,000 cape fur seal pups and 6,000 cape fur seal bulls.

The Cape fur seals are rounded up on Namibian beaches and slaughtered over a period of 20 weeks, starting in July. The pups are still nursing when they are clubbed or stabbed to death.

If all these seals are killed, this slaughter will be larger than the Canadian harp seal 'hunt' this year, which resulted in the deaths of about 60,000 harp seal pups (much lower than the quota, due to the European Union ban on all seal product imports, which reduced demand).

However, this year, after the EU ban and stockpiling of 20,000 unsold seal skins, the Australian buyer of cape fur seal skins, Hatem Yavuz, has offered the Cape fur seals' major advocate, Francois Hugo of Seal Alert-SA the opportunity to buy him out over the next decade, at a price of US$14 million, thus preventing the slaughter of Cape fur seals for this span of time.

Francois Hugo has worked to raise money in the form of pledges for a buyout of the Namibian sealing operation. In order to effect a true buyout and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of seals over the years, the Namibian government will have to agree to the transfer of Hatem Yavuz's sealing license and will have to agree not to reissue a sealing license to anyone else.

Thus the Namibian government will have to agree to shut down the seal slaughter. The price is, of course, subject to negotiation. Hatem Yavuz's initial offer of US$14 million may be much greater than any final negotiated buyout amount.

As Francois Hugo works towards this end, other charitable organizations are also working towards a potential buyout. This buyout may take time to achieve.

Now, however, the Namibian seal slaughter has begun. Reports from the Dutch organization, Bontvoordieren and the British investigative news agency, Ecostorm, say that two of their reporters, Jim Wickens and Bart Smithers, filmed sealing at or near the Cape Cross seal colony, and were assaulted by sealers and then arrested. Their equipment was also stolen.

Harpseals.org will provide more details as they become available.


Fur Seal Slaughter

Cape Fur Seal PupCape fur seals are really a species of sea lion. Two subspecies exist: the South African subspecies, found mostly off the coast of Namibia, and the Australian subspecies. The Cape fur seal pups are born between late October and early January. Most are born in December. The mother seals nurse their young for a year or more.

For 140 days, staring July 1st, the Namibian government permits the killing of about 85,000 nursing baby Cape Fur seals...on the pretext of creating employment for 120 unskilled workers living in cardboard shacks near the seal colony.

We wonder, are the leaders of Namibia unable to think of another way to provide employment for 120 people?


The South Africa Connection

The slaughter of these seal pups on the beaches of Namibia is only one part of the equation of extermination of the species. Another part is the historic removal of the seal colonies from their offshore island breeding grounds by the South African government, leaving them to breed on small rocky islands with insufficient barriers to large Cape waves and stormy seas. When the Cape fur seal pups are born, they, like harp seal pups, cannot yet swim. The storms, with their high winds and large waves, wash seal pups off these rocks and into the sea, where they drown by the tens of thousands each year.

The South African government no longer permits sealing, but it has done nothing to restore the colonies to the islands they used to inhabit.Cape fur seal pup

Francois Hugo, of Seal Alert has proposed to bring seals back to their former breeding islands by establishing small colonies with rescued seals. He believes that this is the only way to get the seals to return. The South African government is, at this point, cooperating with Francois and allowing him to put his plan into effect on part of the seals' historic range. Francois now seeks financial help in implementing this plan. Information for sending funds is below.

There is yet another way in which the South African government has the blood of Cape Fur seals on its hands. Though South African laws prohibit the killing of seals and require regulations that prohibit the transport of firearms on fishing boats (which would be used only to kill seals), the government of South Africa has yet to promulgate such laws banning firearm possession by fishermen. Hence, tens of thousands of fishermen go to sea with firearms, killing seals each day. Read reports here.
Send automated emails to save the Cape fur seals in South Africa


Fisheries.

Since independence Namibia has doubled fishery catch, landings and quotas, from 300 000 tons to 600 000 tons per annum. When it should have reduced it by 50 per cent in 1990. Bank of Namibia annual report, the fishing industry's contribution to the country's GDP was 5 per cent in 2005. Sealing accounts for 0,01 per cent of fishery exports.

Protection of Fish Stocks. Latest scientific research (June 2006) reveals quantative consumption of commercial fisheries cannot be determined effectively, nor confirm whether competition exists. Up to 50 per cent of Cape fur seals diet is non-commercial fish species based. Namibia's seal cull, exempts all fish-eating seals, including breeding cows. Cull is 90 per cent based on nursing baby seals suckling mothers milk (non-fish eaters).
Policies.

1990 South Africa stops its sealing policy on same species. Scientists state their is no biological distinction between Namibian and South African Cape fur seals - the seals are one population. Sealing Commission chaired by WWF recommends a single species management. South Africa stops, Namibia starts sealing.
Population Issues.

Number of pups alive on July 1:
Excluding a mass die-off, less than 70 000 or lower. Sealing pup quota 80 000.

Natural Pup Mortality/Environmental Cull. Double the fishery catch doubles the natural seal pup mortality. Up from 25% to now 62%. Excluding, recorded mass die-off years from starvation 1994, 2000 and 2006 (95% of pups died and half the adult seal population). Nature already kills 62% of the seal pups before sealers start their annual 139 day seal cull.

Global warming, loss of former habitat, reduced fisheries, massive culls, all will lead to this species extinction.

Unnatural Pup Mortality. Double the fishery capacity, doubles the entanglement, interactions, illegal shootings and drownings of foraging seals at sea. Up from 30 000 to 60 000 seal mortalities for one sector of thirteen sector Namibian fishing industry. Its trawler fleets.
Cape Fur Seal Pup Dead Pile
Seal Quota. Decade ago (1996) Seal quota was 20 500. 2006 it was 91 000. 2007 it is 86 000. Not a single marine predator species (fish, seabirds, sharks, whales or dolphins) has increased, neither has seals. Pup Sealing quota increased 300 per cent over last decade.

Cull. Is a term scientific conservationists use to reduce a wild population of animals in an enclosed area (game park). It should have no basis for an annual commercial sealing industry. It should be breeding female based. Namibia exempts all breeding female and cow seals.

"Harvest". Constitutionally it must sustain the population and not reduce it. Namibia does neither.

Seal Population.
Lower in 2006 and 2007 than in 1993. Never recovered from 1994 mass die-off from starvation.

Namibian Sealing Policy.
Annual. 90 per cent baby seal pup based and 3000 - 6000 bull seal genital/penis "harvest".

Percentage of Population Killed. 80% of the Seal Population for 139 days (July to November) each year.

Business Interests

Largest Contributor to GDP. De Beers Diamonds (the world's largest producer of gem diamonds) has publicly voiced horror at the methods used to cull baby seals and is opposed to the cull of seals within diamond restricted area of Namibia.

Tourism. Four of the largest international incoming tourist country's to Namibia. United States, South Africa, Germany and Netherlands have all specifically banned Cape fur seal product imports.

Media Coverage

Media Banned From Cull. Previously photo-journalists arrested. Diamond Area, restricted. Cape Cross Nature Reserve patrolled by armed-guards. Staged Media day in 2000. Mnet Television production Carte Blanche produces evidence of random clubbing of all age groups of seals, secretly filmed.
International Laws

1971 United States of America banned the killing or importing of products from nursing baby seals. European Union in 1983. World remaining sealing countries (Canada, Greenland, Russia and Norway) in 1987. Interferes in the natural behaviour and breeding cycle. Threat to the survival of the species. Considered a Crime Against Nature, even by sealers.


Cruelty Aspect

Chasing and rounding up 80 per cent of the seal population for 139 days each year, to separate pup from nursing seal cow, is traumatic and cruel. Sealing regulations state seal pup must be clubbed with a 1-metre wooden stick (pick axe-handle) on the head and stabbed in the chest to facilitate death. Filmed images of the slaughter, show pups must be clubbed repeatedly, before and after being stabbed in the heart. Pups found breathing after being clubbed and stabbed. Pups vomit up freshly drunk white mothers milk in shock, before, during and after being clubbed and stabbed. Pups chest being cut open whilst still alive. Bulls shot for their genitals.

Value Seal Product Exports

No figure available for recent years. 2000 a total of 41 753 killed seals (pelts, oil and meat) earned (officially) Namibian $ 600 000. N$14 or USD $2 per seal. Although Sealers claim industry earns N$5 million.

Sealing Industry: Three-man held concession. Two of which Rights to Seal end 2007. Namibian has imposed a 5-year moratorium on new fishing rights,.


Seals Killed Per Day
600 pups are clubbed and stabbed each day, for 139 days until quota is filled or season ends. 200 bulls seals per day are shot with rifles to reach the 6000 bull seal quota.
Protection Status

Listed as an Endangered seal species in 1977 by the United Nations Convention In Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix II. Whose survival is dependent upon sound conservation measures.
Distribution
Only species of seal breeding on African Continent.

Range
South Africa, Namibia and Angola. Found nowhere else on earth.


Original Habitat
Former breeding Islands 98 per cent extinct. Less than 20 per cent of the seal population still bred in their natural original habitat - islands.


Sealing Colonies
Now all mainland based. 80 per cent of population. 2 mainland seal colonies. Wolf/Atlas Bay within the De Beers/Namibian Government Diamond Restricted Area. Operated by Namibian Venison & Marine Products with a 38 050 seal kill quota. Cape Cross, a nature reserve on the mainland, operated by two sealing concessionaires, Seal Products 32 950 seals and Cape Cross Seals 20 000 seal kill quota.


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