League member of OIPA a Non Governmental Organization
Associated to the UN Department of Public Information
HOUT BAY HARBOUR – SOUTH AFRICA
4th August 2006
High Commission of the Republic of Namibia
702 Church Street
A Call to End the Last Baby Seal Hunt on Earth
On July 1, Namibia started its annual harvest of 85 000 pups and 6000 bulls. Minister Abraham Iyambo of the Namibian Fisheries and Marine Resources has stated that seals are harvested in Namibia in accordance with Article 95 (1) of your Constitution which requires the State to adopt policies aimed at “the utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians”.
Cape fur seals have a distribution range covering Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia and Angola. Seals are currently protected under the United Nations of CITES as an Appendix II species. In South Africa under the Seabirds and Seals Protection Act No.46 of 1973.
The findings of the Public Protector of South Africa in his report No. 51 released 15th November 2005 states, “The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has a constitutional obligation to protect and promote the conservation of South Africa’s seal resource”.
The Namibian 2006 seal pup production is according to Minister Iyambo is 27% below pre-1993 population levels and this year’s TAC (Total Allowable Catch) pup quota is 68% higher than 1994 quota.
Since Namibia’s independence in 1990 – the Cape fur seals in Namibia have experienced mass die-off’s from starvation and or disease in 1994, 1995, 2000 and 2001, and in 2006 have still not recovered.
It is therefore on this basis that the harvest of seals is no longer being conducted on a sustainable basis under your Constitution and we are therefore calling for an immediate end to the Seal Harvest in Namibia as it is now in direct conflict with our Constitution in South Africa.
Seal Alert-SA would like to bring the following to your attention :-
• In 2000 with the Seal population 10% lower than pre-1993. Namibia doubled its sealing quota to 60 000 pups and 7000 bulls. One month after the sealing season had ended which runs from August 1 to November 15. Minister Iyambo announced that the seals had suffered their highest mass die-off to date where 300 000 seals had starved to death. Involving one third to one half of the seal population.
• In 2001, Minister Iyambo announced he was lengthening the sealing season to July 1 and I quote “This is because past experiences indicate that the season was not long enough for concessionaires to fully harvest their TAC and I have decided that this TAC should be a 3 year rolling TAC”.
• In 2002, Namibia exported 117 400 seal skins on a sealing quota of 60 000. As per CITES Animal Committee Namibia has not applied for an export permit on this taxon. 5000 raw Cape fur seal skins were seized by US NOAA officials that were illegally imported into the US from Namibia.
• In 2003, a South African was convicted of importing two consignments of Cape fur seal skins from Namibia and received a R10 000 fine or 10 months in prison.
• In 2004, at the 20th Meeting of the CITES Animal Committee Meeting, it was decided to put Namibia under review in a “Review of Significant Trade”. (See attached table)
• I refer you to clause 1 of Appendix II specimens – “An export permit certificate issued by the Management Authority of the State. An export permit may be issued only if the specimen was legally obtained and if the export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species”.
• In 2005, Minister Iyambo further increased the Sealing TAC to 65 000 pups.
• During a recent “question and answer” session arranged by the Ministry of Fisheries in Namibia. Minister Iyambo stated pups between the ages of 7 to 9 months are harvested. In 2000, Dr Burger Oelofsen of the Namibian Fisheries stated and I quote, “Females suckle their pups on the colonies from birth to weaning. This is a period of about 10 months”.
• In 1972, the US Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) banned the import of all Cape fur seal skins as it contravenes their regulations which states, “the taking of a nursing pup is inhumane”. This was further validated by the US Appeal Court in 1977. Since 1987, the world’s sealing nations of Canada, Norway, Greenland and Russia, has banned the “taking of nursing pups in birthing or breeding grounds”.
Seal Alert-SA is therefore supported in this call to “End the Last Baby Seal Hunt on Earth” by over 12 million supporters from organizations and individuals in over 140 countries around the world.
As founder of Seal Alert-SA I respectfully urge you to bring these concerns to the attention of the Namibian Government and to support our call for an immediate end to the Namibian Seal Harvest in 2006.
I attach the following letters of support. Save our Seals UK, International Doctors –LIMAV and OIPA International and the Humane Society of the United States and its international arm, Humane Society International (HSUS/HIS)
For the Seals