----- Original Message -----
August 10, 2006 1:34 PM
Dear Mr Seller,
SEAL ALERT-SA ASKS THAT THIS EMAIL
BE READ CAREFULLY AND THE CONTENTS NOTED. UPON COMPLETION -
PLEASE SEND AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THEREOF.
Thank you for your telephonic conversation yesterday. A
number of issues were discussed and I therefore would like
to further address some of these.
I ask CITES to consider the implications
of the following very seriously;
◦ The Namibian sealing industry contributes a
fraction to the Namibian GDP - in fact less than 0.02% in
the fisheries GDP, which is the third largest contributor
to the economy. As an employer of jobs, it creates
employment for between 14 and 150 part-time, migrant
workers working from August to November. Income in 2000,
from 42 000 seals earned Namibian $600 000 - which is equal
to USD $100 000 for whole industry.
◦ It is the mandate and objective of Seal Alert-SA
to secure the future survival of the Cape fur seals through
sound conservation - the sealing industry must
therefore be stopped, as it has been done, in
South Africa in 1990 and throughout its distribution range
◦ It is not the mandate or intention of Seal
Alert-SA to harm the Namibian economy is any meaningful
way, (except to end sealing) however as in the case of
South Africa, legal wildlife trade is a major source of
revenue, and therefore illegal trade is regarded as a
threat to the economy - the penalty of any illegal trade -
would involve a complete ban of all wildlife trade and the
possibility of other countries being prevented from
◦ CITES needs to urgently consider this position and
translate these concerns to Namibia urgently, not only the
Minister of Fisheries responsible for sealing (as he might
already be compromised) but the President as well - the
reason Seal Alert-SA states this is as follows;
▪ Immediate cessation of the Seal Harvest, based on
the allegations made to date (impact to the Namibian
economy negligible); or alternatively
▪ Seal Alert-SA is forced to continue with
substantial evidence that in the end, will place CITES and
the violations of its convention in such a serious light -
that a total ban on all wildlife trade will become the only
alternative penalty due to the severity of the
violations (impacting severely on the Namibian
economy) - and on all wildlife trade, not just the sealing
▪ It is not the intention of Seal Alert-SA to cause
the cessation of all wildlife trade in Namibia, as a
penalty - it seeks only to end sealing immediately.
Please could CITES therefore
convey these real concerns to the Namibian officials - and
request their immediate voluntary announcement to end
sealing. Should Namibia accept this offer - Seal Alert-SA
will do everything in its power to communicate this to its
12 million supporters and promote the Namibian tourism
economy. South Africa has a thriving seal-viewing
eco-tourism industry which has existed for over 25-years -
one island colony alone, has become one of the top ten
attractions in the western Cape, where over 400 000
tourists are ferried annually earning over R20 million in
direct ticket sales or USD 3.5 million.
Seal Alert-SA would just
need to ensure that less than 200 tourists visit Namibia
who otherwise would not have, due to its sealing policy in
order for Namibia and its citizens to be fully
It is important to understand the
information provided by Seal Alert-SA does not relate to a
single alleged incident - but instead a whole range of
conservation, trade and harvest issues that in fact go back
decades of mismanagement - which in our opinion, is a
threat to the future survival of this species. The whole
reason for CITES existence and hence why it has been
reported to you. In addition, Seal Alert-SA intends to use
every means at its disposal, including undercover work to
continue to investigate this industry until sealing has
Let us deal primarily with CITES
involvement with International Trade; Conservation of
Specie - killing of nursing pups; Findings of the 'Review
of Significant Trade'; Sustainable harvests and the Current
Harvest - ignore all welfare aspects.
International Trade :
Taken from the CITES 2004 Animals
Video evidence of Namibian Sealers in 1993
Correct me if I am wrong. It was
acknowledged today by CITES that as per the above chart -
no export permits was granted by CITES for any of the above
seal products other than those detailed above for the
period 1992 - 2002. It was further acknowledged that Cites
Secretariat has taken the Cites Animals Committee to task
on this. (It should therefore be noted that this in no way
removes the fact that Namibia has been in violation of the
Cites Convention). Namibian Ministry of Fisheries has
stated "sealing regulations require the use of the whole
Sealing quota for 2006 - is as
follows. Namibia Venison & Marine Exporters 38 050
seals. Sealion Products 32 950 and Cape Cross Seals 20 000.
In the 1994 - 22 edition of the Fishing Industry Handbook -
Namibia Venison & Marine Exporters lists his sealing
concession products as producers of carcases and (seal)
meal and a processor of seal skins - and in 2002, lists in
addition seal oil and seal skin products. Sealion Products
lists it simply as seal products.
On the 17th December 1999 owner of
Sealion Products, Albert Brink to the Namibian newspaper,
"concentrates only on the killing of seals for export of
Based on the above during the period
1992 - 2002, over 404 479 seal skins were exported (Cites
International Trade) on a TAC quota of 467 000 seals.
Representing an international trade of 87% on set annual
quotas.( it must be noted that sealers have consistently
reported being unable to fill their quotas - that it is
safe to assume all seal harvests are for International
Export and Trade).
was told by a sealer that he could only harvest 80% of
his TAC quota in 2005 as their were no more pups to
harvest by end of season. From the above table for the
period 1989 - 1996 by the Ministry of Fisheries of
Namibia. We can see that although Fisheries set a
"sustainable TAC" for the period of 258 800 seals -
sealers were only able to harvest 173 229 or 67%. This
raises serious concerns, namely;
◦ Unlike the Canadian seal harvest where pups are
weaned and the harvest occurs away from the nursery on
ice floes and is therefore very much weather dependent. No
such situation is applicable to the Namibian situation on
◦ The question then arises if these Sealing TAC's
are set scientifically and are not detrimental to the
survival of the species - why are sealers only able to
harvest on average 67% of their quota ?
◦ Does this in fact mean sealers are in fact killing
every pup still alive on these colonies come August or July
1, if so how is this sustainable and not detrimental to the
survival of the species?
Namibia has therefore
been in serious violation of the CITES Convention of
its seal exports involving over 400 000 seal products
between 1992 and 2002 - and all the illegal activity in
relation to each export infringement of each seal part or
product thereof. Cites has no option but to act urgently
upon this. Under the Convention a ban on all wildlife trade
is appropriate - due to the seriousness of these sustained
clear video evidence between 1993 - 2000 of nursing seal
pups being harvested
Conservation of the Species :
Future survival of the Cape fur
seal, can only be based on sound conservation management.
In this regard habitat is equally important as population
numbers. Special Scientist at Marine and Coastal Management
(MCM) Department of DEAT - South Africa, Dr Jeremy David
(formerly in-charge of sealing and seal conservation)
stated, "Seals select offshore islands as their preferred
breeding sites ....there are also six mainland colonies,
five of which have become established only since 1940 ....
as a result of exploitation the seal population had been
reduced to very low levels by the start of 1900. In fact,
at least 23 island colonies had become extinct by
then .... seals have only recolonised 3 of them".
According to the Seabirds and Seals
Protection Act No.46 of 1973 (South Africa), this
legislation was adopted and still in use until 2000 by
Namibia. A total of 46 offshore islands are listed, with a
total land surface area of 1000 ha (Schedule 1 of the Act).
The reality is that these former 23 seal island colonies
represent 99% of the total protected island land. Since
official population surveys were undertaken in 1972 - 98%
of these former breeding seal colonies have remained
Cape fur seals have lost 98% of
their former endemic breeding offshore islands - although
these habitats still remain protected.
This fact alone,
(loss of 98% of former breeding habitat) should
weigh equally with CITES when deciding on the granting
of export permits to Namibia. As the conservation or threat
to the future survival of the species cannot be simply be
based on pup population production numbers alone - Loss of
former habitat and its continued extinction has to be
considered as well.
At the peak of the seal population
in 1992 - 77% of the seal population was found on these six
new mainland colonies, of which five is situated in
Namibia. Of the five mainland colonies in Namibia - two
(the sealing colonies) support a pup production of 75% of
Harvesting of Nursing pups in Birthing, Nursing, Breeding
CITES has stated that its
convention does not cover aspects of welfare as different
countries have different regulations. This however is not
applicable in this specific species in Namibia. For the
◦ Although 90% of the sealing TAC is based on
nursing seal pups in South Africa and Namibia (2006 -
Iyambo, pups 7 to 9 months harvested) and (2000 - Oelofsen,
pups still nursing at 10 months) and which was regulated
under the Seabirds and Seals Protection Act in 1973 - the
US to which all skins were exported to, banned the import
of all seal products in 1972. As it contravened the US MMPA
which states that the "taking of a nursing pup" is illegal.
This view was further supported by the US Appeal court in
◦ On October 1, 1983, a European Communities
Directive binding on all members states came into force. It
prohibited the import of the skins, raw or
processed, of nursing harp seal pups and
nursing hooded pup seals in birthing or breeding
◦ The world's sealing nations of Canada, Norway,
Greenland and Russia have all made the "hunting of
nursing pups" illegal since 1987. "Marine Mammal
regulations prohibit the trade, sale or barter of the fur
of these pups, seals cannot be harvested when they are in
breeding or birthing grounds".
◦ South Africa stopped its sealing policy in 1990.
◦ Seal Alert-SA is willing to produce the scientific
reason based on the conservation aspect - why this method
is detrimental to the future survival of this species.
CITES needs to consider its
"convention principles" very carefully in relation to the
above. As Namibia now remains the only country and only
sealing nation in the world - that ignores the scientific
and conservation reasons why nursing pups should not be
harvested when "nursing in birthing or breeding colonies".
For the following reasons;
◦ By granting Namibia these export permits (in which
100% involves nursing pups), CITES is in fact making
something that the rest of the world sees as illegal and a
threat to the survival of the species - as something that
is lawful and not a threat to its survival. This is in
direct conflict with its own convention.
◦ As a UN Convention on the International Trade in
Endangered Species - by permitting these exports of
(nursing pup skins) CITES is attempting to make something
legal - that remains illegal anywhere else in the world,
and for which if convicted in most countries including
South Africa, would involve a criminal conviction and
Based on this - CITES
therefore has no option but to immediately stop the issuing
of export permits for these skins or seal products to
Findings of the 'Review of Significant Trade':
According to your telephone
conversation you state that Namibia was placed on a 'Review
of Significant Trade' in 2004 - but that the CITES Animal
Committee did a review some time later, which found that
Namibia's 117 400 exports in 2002 on a recently doubled
sealing quota of 60 000 on a 3 year rolling TAC with a
sealing season lengthened in 2001, from August to now July
1 - to allow the sealers and I quota, Minister Iyambo "past
experience indicates that the season was not long enough
for concessionaires to fully harvest their TAC" - was "not
detrimental to the survival of the species".
◦ CITES is now aware that
this further supports our allegations that sealing quotas
since independence of Namibia in 1990 has involved killing
every seal pup still alive in these sealing colonies - as
there is no reason, other than major disturbance in a
breeding colony (fleeing) of still nursing pups or no more
pups alive, to account for the reason why sealers cannot
reach their full TAC. This would be in contravention of
section was copied from the 20th CITES Animals
Committee Meeting in 2004 - relating to the seal
population. (I ask you to read it carefully).
I refer to the
above, which appeared in the Namibia Brief in January
1998 - written by Namibian Ministry of Fisheries head
of Marine Mammal Section, Dr Jean-Paul Roux. There are
a number of very disturbing issues which appear to be
overlooked by the CITES Animals Committee in 2004.
◦ CITES states a 300 000 pup population gives an
overall population of 2 million. This is not true.
I refer to specialist scientist Dr Jeremy David - "Once the
total number of pups in a colony has been estimated, a
simple rule of thumb, namely to multiply the number of pups
by four, is used to calculate the total number of fur seals
at the end of a breeding season". This therefore would only
give a total population of 1.2 million - some 40% lower
than that suggested.
◦ Dr Jean-Paul Roux states that in 1993/94 the pup
production was only 200 000, which would give a total
population of just 800 000 seals - 60% lower than CITES
◦ CITES states 200 000 died in 1994 (10% of the
population) as its only reference to this unnatural mass
die-off event. It makes no reference to pups, referring
only to 'seals' - a clear distortion of the facts and
ignores all mass die-off's references that later occurred.
◦ Dr Jean-Paul Roux states 300 000 died in 1994 (38%
of the population and the entire cohort of pups
100% born that year). Where by July that year (1994)
researchers state less than 5% would survive to weaning
age. That in effect means there was just 10 000 pups alive
come start of sealing season on August 1.
◦ On August 1 - Namibia issues a "sustainable
utilization of a living resource under its constitution"
sealing TAC of 56 000 pups. This is an impossibility as
there was only less than 10 000 pups alive. (The Minister of
Fisheries should face charges for this
◦ Namibian Sealing Regulations for "pup" -
means a seal
in its first year of life. (importance of which
◦ CITES permitted 43 478 seals skins to be exported
that year. (Where did the balance
of 33 000 seal skins come from)? Why did CITES
permit these exports on a harvest that was clearly
detrimental to the future survival of the species?
◦ Dr Jean-Paul Roux states "In mid-June the average
mass of the few surviving pups was just over 8.6kg, nearly
5kg less than the average for the previous seven years
(13.6kg on average).
◦ To illustrate how illegal CITES was in awarding
those export permits in 1994 - is revealed in the Sapanet
ANC newsbriefing on the 16 August 1995 - "Sea Lion products
manager at the reserve, Philipp Metzger, said pups culled
so far this year had 20kg to 25kg less blubber than normal.
"It's not enough for them (weened pups) to go swimming
far.Fifty per cent of the seals are in good condition. The
rest are poor or very poor. They can't survive this year as
well." Last year about 500,000 seals died of starvation on
the Namibian coastline".
◦ The average weight of pups at the time of harvest
is no more than 15kg. Therefore based on the comments of
sealing manager for Sealion products (one of only two
concessionaires). Pups that were culled - could not
possible have 20-25kg less blubber, unless they were
culling seals that were 2 year old's (in contravention of
their sealing regulations and quota - for which they should
◦ CITES should note as per the Sapanet newsbriefing
the die-off numbers for 1994 had now swelled to 500 000
according to this press statement - 62% of Namibia's total
◦ Dr Jean-Paul Roux article goes on to state - "60%
less pups were born in 1995... early pup mortality was the
highest recorded since 1987 ... adult females aborted again
in 1996... the Namibian population was reduced by one third
to one half, this includes a 40% drop in the foraging
population and breeding stock in 1993, and the total
eradication of two cohorts of pups".
◦ CITES ignored all this
◦ Namibia continued to award sealing pup and bull
quotas for 1995 of 17 450 pups (even though there was
no surviving cohorts of pups) and increased the
sealing quota further in 1996 to 20 500 - knowing that
there was (a
40% drop in the foraging population and adult females were
what can only be considered extreme negligence if not even
criminal - CITES allowed exports of 37 019
skins on a quota of 17 450 in 1995, and 42 611 skins on a
quota of just 20 500 in 1996.
◦ With the failure of
CITES to act in 1994, 1995 or 1996 - the two sealing
concession holders announced in 1997, in a joint venture
with a unnamed foreign concern, their intentions to
establish a N$2.5 million seal processing plant and related
industries, (although at the time employing less than
40 part-time workers) - they announced their intentions to
1997 - Namibia increased the quota 70% from 20 500 to
35 000, even though at the end of sealing season
only 85% of the quota of 35 000 or 29 950 pups were able to
be harvested. (Which CITES approved once again)
◦ In 1998 - Although Namibia maintained the Sealing
quota of 35 000 and again in 1999, sealing were only able
to export, 16% or 5 880 of the quota and even less, 6% of
the quota of just 2 124 in 1999. (There is no as yet
explanation for this sudden drop in export demand or
whether this reflected the full harvested pup
◦ Strangely and perhaps
this is conclusive proof of substantial illegal trade in
exports, the 30th Edition of the Fishing Industry Handbook
2002, lists Namibia as exporting 30 000 seal skins worth
N$3.9 million in 1998, when CITES only approved 5 880, and
again exported 25 161 seal skins worth N$3.5 million, when
CITES only approved 2 124 in
◦ CITES still failed to act.
◦ In 2000 - Namibia announces it is doubling the
quota to 60 000 pups and 7000 bulls.
◦ In October 2000 - undercover footage obtained by
Carte Blanche television and broadcast in 44 African
countries, showed that sealers were 'randomly clubbing all
age groups of seals' - which is illegal.
(Again Namibia or CITES did not act against these
violations shown on international television). Nor did it
concern itself that once again only 81% of the quota was
only able to be harvested, and allowed the export of 48 686
◦ Nor did CITES concern itself that export income in
1999 (prior to the doubled quota) was N$3.5 million for 25
161 skins, that now in fact dropped to just N$ 600 000
for 41 753 skins in 2000. (representing an
effective commercial decline per seal skin from N$139 to
N$14, a decline in a single year of
◦ As fraudulent, negligible and impossible as it may
sound - Namibia Ministry announced exactly one month after
sealing season had ended (see above), that it had suffered
its worst mass die-off to date, its (4th mass die-off in
only the past 7 years) - in a PRESS RELEASE TO THE
◦ CITES permitted 48 686
skins to be legally exported and failed to act.
◦ If this was not bad enough, one month into the
start of the 2001 breeding season - (the Weekend Argus
Newspaper carried an article and reported that 90 000 pups
had already died and were washing up on Namibian
◦ Unbelievable as it may sound, the Minister of
Fisheries in this same year that Namibia's 5th mass-die-off was
taking place in only the last 8 years, decided to
Sealing season, from August to July 1, set a rolling TAC of
60 000. Even though sealers could only harvest 20
654 or 34% of their quota in 2001.
◦ CITES approved once again these exports.
◦ In 2002, on a 60 000 TAC quota - Namibia exported
117 400 skins, without CITES approval or permits.
◦ NOAA US officials seized 5000 raw Cape fur seal
skins illegally exported from Namibia.
◦ CITES failed to act or request criminal charges be
brought against the Namibian sealer involved.
◦ In 2003, South Africa arrested and criminally
convicted an importer for importing two separate
consignments of seal skins from Albert Brink of Sealion
Products in Namibia.
◦ CITES again failed to act.
◦ In 2004 - Namibia was placed under a 'Review of
Significant Trade' by CITES.
According to the
information in your telephone conversation yesterday, you
stated the CITES Animals Committee had reviewed Namibia
seal exports and could find no detrimental evidence or a
threat to the survival of the species. (Please forward a
copy of these findings)
◦ All the above according to CITES Animals Committee
is not detrimental to the survival of the species, nor is
the seizure in the US of the illegal exports from Namibia
in 2002 or the criminal convictions in 2003 of the South
African importer who received illegal exports from Namibia.
◦ Neither is the illegal exports of over 400 000
seal products, with which CITES admits there was no export
permits for - involving possibly thousands of illegal
violations of the CITES convention.
Namibian Fishery Minister Abraham
It is the opinion of
Seal Alert-SA that CITES Animal Committee and or CITES
Management Authority are themselves in serious breach of
their own Convention, and as illegal skins have been
seized, and as a South African has already been convicted
of a criminal offence with possible imprisonment - the
Sealers in Namibia, CITES Management in Namibia and CITES
Animal Committee members for Africa should face similar
Sustainable Harvesting :
Based on all the above I believe
that it is both factually and scientifically clear that
Namibia has not been engaging in any form of "sustainable
harvesting" since its independence in 1990. It is therefore
in contravention of its own Constitution and all its
exports have been in contravention and violation of CITES.
Bearing in mind,
mass die-off's in the last 8
◦ Sealers failing to reach
their full harvest quotas even with lengthened sealing
◦ Namibian Ministry has
already stated "sustainable harvests" should not exceed 30%
of the pups born.
Current Harvest - 2006 Sealing Season :
Without absolutely no sealing data or
population trends, except un-official reports that mass
die-off's are still occurring, year on year since 2002. It
is understandable that over 12 million worldwide seal
supporters in over 140 countries are extremely concerned
about the developments in Namibia and the management of
When Seal Alert-SA received brief
population trends from Chief Director of Islands in South
Africa, Dr Augustyn in late May 2006. It was able to
calculate that the 2006, sealing quota of 60 000 (unaware
that it had been increased to 85 000), would in fact pose a
serious threat to the future survival of this species and
be detrimental to its survival. It then pursued every
available means to transmit these concerns to South African
and Namibian Officials, marine scientists, IFAW, WWF, IUCN,
TRAFFIC and others - to date no response has been
was forced to go public.
Namibia's 2006 sealing pup quota
of 85 000 - on a seal population still 27% lower than
pre-1993 levels. Which means in 1993, there was 164 000
pups born on these two sealing colonies (75% of the
population), less 27%, gives a pup production for 2006
breeding season of 119 000 - (30% of this should give a
'sustainable' sealing quota of 35 000). Aware that there
are continued un-official reports of further mass
die-off's, and that under normal conditions Cape fur seal
pups suffer a natural mortality of between
(25-32%) within the first few weeks from birth. That
come July 1 - start of Namibia's sealing season - there
would be at best 84 000 seal pups still alive - on a
sealing quota of 85 000 - a total seal pup extermination or
genocidal culling policy was underway.
Protest in London
Since the 6th July 2006, the media both
in South Africa, Namibia and Internationally have carried
these headlines, two protests have already been staged
outside Namibian High Commissions in South Africa and UK.
Some of the headlines that have
appeared in South Africa and in Namibia, have read;
◦ Seal culling season sparks new protests.
◦ Seal rights group warns Namibia of health
◦ International protest against seal cull.
◦ Seal clubbing gets flack from world animal
◦ IFAW joins protest against seal culling.
◦ No better way to cull seals: govt.
◦ Namibian seal cull is genocide.
◦ Cites asked to act on Namibian seal cull.
Even throughout all this headline news
appearing since the 6th of July, and even a "question and
answer" media session arranged by the Ministry of Fisheries
in Namibia, and even though CITES Animals Committee was
meeting in Peru between 7-13 July (which would have
presented a perfect opportunity for CITES to intervene)
CITES remained silent. Even emails to CITES Animals
Committee, CITES Management Authority in Namibia and CITES
Secretariat went unanswered, sent on the 9th, 11th, 13th,
24th July and 3rd and 6th August 2006 - (all unanswered and
ignored), until my final telephonic contact with John
Seller on the 8th of August 2006.
With on-line protest petitions calling
for Namibia to stop the 2006 Hunt, supported by over 12
million people worldwide from organizations such as HSUS
and its 9.5 million members, Oipa, Peta, IFAW to name just
a few. I find it unacceptable, that CITES Secretariat
states the following;
opportunity that CITES can formally address this is during
our next Convention of Trade Meeting in October
This is unacceptable - in light of all
the information contained in this email. CITES must, should
and has to act now to stop this Namibian Seal Hunt - NOW !
It cannot allow Namibia to proceed with the harvest of 85
000 "living natural protected resources (seals)" in a
harvest that is clearly scientifically and factually and
unconstitutionally - will be detrimental to the future
survival of the species, and threaten its survival - as it
cannot permit the "legal" export of these seals, their
skins or products - which will then just be discarded as
act NOW !
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
Original Message -----
August 09, 2006 10:00 AM
Trade in seals
Dear Mr Seller,
My number is +27-21-790 8774. I will try
and keep it open - Francois.
Original Message -----
August 09, 2006 9:51 AM
Trade in seals
Please provide me with a
telephone number at which I may contact you. I have
dialled a number quoted in one of your messages but that
connects me to an answering machine.
I will try to speak to you