Cape fur seals, also known as South African fur seals, historically inhabited the islands off the coast of South Africa. But overhunting and harassment from humans have forced them from the islands and onto the mainland of Namibia and South Africa. Now, the Cape fur seals are threatened by a commercial hunt that grows larger every year.
Namibia is the only country in the Cape fur seal's range in which commercial hunting is permitted. Sealing occurs on two mainland colonies, Cape Cross and Wolf/Atlas Bay, where 75 percent of the pups are born. From July 1 through Nov. 15, commercial hunters hire approximately 160 part-time workers to kill the seals, most pups between the ages of 7 and 11 months. Hunters club the pups on the head with large, ice-pick-like clubs, and then stab them in the heart. The much larger bulls are shot.
Despite a declining population of Cape fur seals and high mortality rates among the seal population, the hunting quota increases every year.
Cape fur seals are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Species on Appendix II are not threatened with extinction, but their survival is dependent on conservation measures.
The hunt in Namibia is the second largest commercial seal hunt in the world, and it would not comply with most other nations' laws protecting marine mammals. It is inhumane and unsustainable. Its high quotas are non-precautionary and violate modern basic principles of good wildlife management