Sometimes When Reaching Out to Marine Wildlife - They Touch You Instead
From: Seal Alert-SA
Date: April 19, 2007

Dear All Cape Fur Seal Supporters,

Sometimes When Reaching Out to Marine Wildlife - They Touch You, Instead

 
      I have just returned from my night-time feed with the seals. I love this time of year, when winds calm down, nights are still, stars are out in force, and all one hears in the darkness is seals groaning and moaning and the gentle lap of the incoming ocean.
 
      Mumkin has been out at sea foraging, and I have not seen him since yesterday afternoon. As soon as he saw me he let out his distinctive lamb-like puppy call in the pitch black darkness. All my life, I have shared it with companion animals. TC my black Labrador, (now long since passed) was like my shadow, we shared 13 years of life together. I remember fondly whilst scuba diving, TC would swim around on the surface 60ft above biting at my ascending bubbles far out at sea. Experiencing all this, there is just something different about the love marine wildlife give back, perhaps it is because they are wild, non-dependent on you for survival, that when they give it, it is from nothing else but pure free will - with it the intensity appears much greater and deeper.
 
     Tonight as I usually do I climbed down onto the rocks, and said hello to Mumkin in our usual way. Soon thereafter I would proceed to tube-feed this wild Cape fur seal that had returned from the deep ocean. Tonight, Mumkin wanted something else, something much more important to him than filling his belly. He wanted love in his adopted Dad's arms. Flippering over he smouldered himself against my chest and in my arms. Try as I might he would not budge.
 
     Twice I placed him on the rocks to commence feeding, as I had still lots of feeding to do, but twice he clambered back over to rather snuggle up.
 
     Perhaps he just needed to be held, loved or perhaps he had a frightening experience or perhaps he felt I needed it.
 
     Mumkin just wanted to curl-up on Dad's chest, under the stars, the laping sounds of the waves in the pitch black night, and share this most special of special time. To have his warm seal-breath beating against your face, and feel his body warmth radiate into your hands as he clasped all his rubbery flippers tightly around my hand - a deeply moving wonderful experience. As his silky fluffy fur dressed my chest. As we lay on our backs facing the stars with the cold rocks our bed, warm as only a Cape fur seal knows - we together shared an incredible moment. The world appeared to stop and pass us by, for we were in our own world - where nothing and no-one mattered except us.
 
    With this, I thought I would share. I often envy and have known, what it is truly like to be one with this planet, to simply haul-out on a rock, covered in nothing but one's own fur, and generate one's own warmth, as the sounds of the ocean, the darkness and the stars above rock you gentle to a peaceful state and sleep. Mumkin experiences these pleasure every day, I on the other hand rarely. 
 
    Tonight I will always remember, and came home feeling as if I had reached a complete state of inner-peace.
 
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA


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From:
SEAL ALERT-SA
Date: April 6, 2007
Subject:

Seal Alert-SA growing really annoyed,
what are they so afraid of in the rescue of seals?




Dear All Cape Fur Seal Supporters,

What Are Fishery Department's Worldwide, so Afraid of, in the Rescue of Seals?

 
      The attached newspaper article forwarded by Paul Watson of Seashepherd, reveals certain tell-tale signs of a very disturbed management policy. Stranded baby seal - public compassion - threat by officials - seal protection laws - mass slaughter of seals. Why would a fisheries official tasked with protecting seals (who by the way as wildlife are
res nullius, belonging to nobody, suddenly care about the welfare of one single baby seal, when his entire department is busy exterminating hundreds of thousands of seal babies in the most obscene way possible, who are already drowning from global warming - with a hook in a wooden club. It just does not make any sense?
 
      I personally, since 1999, have encountered this illogic behaviour many, many times during the course of my rescue of seals. I have been criminally charged, arrested, threatened, intimidated and my home and vessels invaded - and seals were confiscated, removed, killed or simply dumped, thereafter. This drove me to do my rescues in the wild and at sea. What are these fishery persons so afraid of? What is it that they desperately do not want the general public to find out or experience about these loving creatures of the sea.
 
     After all those high level emails of recent between various head's of department's, Seal Alert-SA receives this as their official response (see attached).
 
     Well to be honest, I have had it. Every single marine species, they have exploited and harvested, has declined, but not before they claimed under every constitution in the world, that the fisheries were being sustainably and well managed - except, and you guessed it - seals. Somehow, against all logic and odds, whilst being slaughtered in their hundreds of thousands, seals are thriving. According to them, there are more seals today, than there were fifty years ago, even though all their former islands are extinct. What part of the English language of extinction - do they not understand.  It must infuriate them to no end, to see a species you hate and try desperately to wipe from the face of the earth - still survive, against all odds, munching on that so precious fish, as they do so.
 
     Well Seal Alert-SA is going to stick it to them, real good. Very soon, (with your financial help of course, and my own), I am going to be the seal's human-taking voice, both in sound and vision. Whatever "they" do from now on to the seals, will be recorded and beamed in weekly short-films to a worldwide growing audience over the internet. I plan to create a real-life seal-soapy, so disturbing but oh so real.
 
     Because of two things I am certain. One, is that they don't want you to see the seals as they truly are, and two, they don't want you to know and see what they are doing to these precious wildlife, that need our protection.
 
     My advice to everyone, go out and rescue a seal or empower others to do it on your behalf, and watch this space.
 
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA

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From: Paul Watson
Date: April 4, 2007

Subject: DOUBLESPEAK FROM THE MINISTRY OF DEATH - Halifax Sunday Herald column on the seal slaughter and he DFO

HALIFAX SUNDAY HERALD COLUMN - March 18, 2007
DOUBLESPEAK FROM THE MINISTRY OF DEATH
by
 
Silver Donald Cameron
The dogs frantic barking told George Garneau and Rebecca Baker that there was something strange in their front yard in Thorburn one Sunday morning in early March. It was a baby seal - and it was five kilometres from the nearest salt water. 

He must have dragged himself along his belly through fields, Garneau told the Canadian Press. He had to pass through forest and roads. 

What do you do with a baby seal in your front yard? Garneau and Baker called the SPCA and other animal-welfare agencies, but couldnt reach anyone. So they herded him into a portable dog kennel, drove him to the nearest beach, and set him free. 

He seemed fine, said Garneau. He was snarling and growling at us. When they released him, the seal hot-footed it across the ice towards the open water. 

This couple did everything right. They tried to find expert help - but failed, because it was Sunday. They devised their own plan to help the seal, and carried it out successfully. The next sound should be general applause.  

But no. The next sound was scolding and threats from Peter Taylor, the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s “area chief of conservation and protection - an amazing title in an organization whose approach to conservation and protection amounts to criminal negligence. Taylor said that the couple should have let DFO take over. 

Seals are protected under marine mammal regulations and so they are not to be harrassed or harmed, said Taylor ominously. Fishery officers have laid charges in the past. 

Got that? Assisting a stranded seal is harassment under the marine mammal regulations. For their compassion, Garneau and Baker are threatened with charges. 

The minor outrage is the bureaucratic idiocy of that reaction. The far deeper outrage is that DFO officials have the bare-faced effrontery to talk as though their regulations served the welfare of wildlife. This is Orwellian double-speak. The objective of the Seal Protection Regulations has always been to ensure the efficient slaughter of large numbers of seals. Look it up on DFOs website. The regulations govern how many seals may be killed, and by what means - not more than 245,000 baby harp seals in 1971, for instance, and not with gaffs or small clubs, but with the wicked spiked clubs known as hakapiks.

To call this protection is to sin against the English language - but the regulations moved on to sin against democracy and civil rights in 1977, when, as the DFO site coyly puts it, In an effort to keep order and good management on the ice, observer permits [were first] required by all who wish to view the hunt. This innocent-sounding requirement was enacted primarily to ban Greenpeace and Brigitte Bardot from the ice floes. Under these regulations, DFO can require permits for anyone approaching seals on the ice - but it grants those permits to sealers, and not to protesters. 

DFOs true objective was to stifle legitimate democratic protest. Earlier, Greenpeace had sprayed whitecoat seals with non-toxic green dye, making their pelts worthless, and Bardot had drawn the worlds media to the ice, where they had filmed the whole gory horror that is the seal hunt - infant seals with their heads bashed in, blood spouting from their mouths and eyes; seals skinned alive; adult seals watching from breathing holes while their young were clubbed to death; streaks of blood like red driveways across the white ice where heaps of pelts had been dragged to the sealing ships.  

I watched the carnage at The Front one spring myself, on the ice floes north of Newfoundland. It was the most nauseating thing I ever saw. And the result of all that vivid media coverage was an international outcry which ultimately ended the seal hunt - at least for a few years.  

But the hunt resumed in the 1990s, and the regulations have become ever more draconian. In 2005, Paul Watsons Sea Shepherd Society took a dozen observers to the ice. When they attempted to film the slaughter, they were attacked by the sealers, arrested by the RCMP, charged under the Seal Protection Regulations, and fined $1000 each. Those who were not Canadian were barred from re-entering the country. 

Watson himself was fined $3000 and banned from the seal hunt for two years. If he flouts the ban, he can be charged with criminal contempt, which allows the judge to throw the book at him. 

And thats because Watson and his ilk genuinely want to protect seals. 

DFO is the Ministry of Death. Its despotic, fork-tongued regulations exist to ensure that seals can be freely slaughtered without interference from protesters who are legitimately appalled that this country should host the worlds largest slaughter of marine wildlife. That the regulations should be brandished at people like Garneau and Baker is contemptible. The very existence of those regulations stains the democratic credentials of this nation.
 
 
Silver Donald Cameron is a columnist for the Halifax Sunday Herald and is also the author of numerous books, most recently Sailing Away from Winter, an account of his voyage from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas? His website address is: www.silverdonaldcameron.ca

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RESPONSES TO ISSUES RAISED AT A MEETING WITH SEAL ALERT SA


1. Issues raised by Seal-Alert SA (Mr. Hugo and Ms Smith) 21 February 2007

a. Feasibility of re-introducing seals to islands previously occupied by seals

Response: Seals should re-occupy islands naturally and re-colonization should not be forced. If the re-colonization is forced, long-term sustainability cannot be assured. Seals are likely to naturally select areas where they would have sufficient food, namely, sardine and anchovies.

Historically the sardine and anchovy resource were most abundant on the west coast and the sardine canning and anchovy fishmeal industry thrived on the west coast. In recent years there has been a substantial decline in the anchovy and sardine resource due to environmental factors. This has been coupled with a south and eastward shift in the main centre of distribution of these pelagic resources. The pelagic resources are presently most abundant on the south coast. This same trend has also been seen in rock lobster, which was historically predominantly on the west coast.

b. Seal exports and permit conditions

Response: The Department has engaged with authorities of Cape Nature and together we will improve the permit conditions as well as ensuring compliance through regular inspection of facilities and conditions under which seals are kept. A specific time-frame for the export will also be stated to ensure that the seals are not kept for excessively long periods of time.

c. Permit for Mr. Hugo (Seal Alert SA) for seal rehabilitation

Response: Seal Alert SA through Mr. Hugo should apply for a permit to capture, transport and possess seals explicitly for their rehabilitation. The Department would however require the following documentation:
i. Identity Document
ii. Specifications of the facility:
(a) Facilities i.e. pools, depth, size, enclosures, cover, isolation areas, temperature control, etc.
(b) Water quality, volume, turnover rate, water temperature, chlorinators, filters, etc.
iii Previous experience with the species, complete record of animals kept, mortalities and cause of death.
iv Rehabilitation plan with details of time frames (complete protocols), feeding strategy, weaning strategy and release into the wild.
v Veterinary services, where applicable
vi Reporting biannually on the number of seals rehabilitated, sex, age/size, area of capture, area of release, duration of rehabilitation, veterinary interventions where applicable, etc.

The abovementioned application should be submitted together with the required permit application fee to:
Customer Service Centre,
2
nd floor, Foretrust Building,
Martin Hammerschlag Way,
Foreshore,
Cape Town.

The application should be marked for the attention of the Director: Offshore & High Seas Fisheries Management, Marine & Coastal Management.

d. Release of 2 seals from East London Aquarium

Response: The two seals at the East London Aquarium have been in captivity at the facility for a total period of 3 months. During the period of captivity the seals have been fed through human intervention and have acclimatized to captive living conditions. Releasing the seals back into the wild may pose an ecological risk to the environment into which they are released as they may have acquired certain pathogens while in captivity.

Another concern is that the seals have been hand fed and as such have lost their fear of humans. They are presently part of a national facility which caters for education and display of wild animals. The Aquarium also has an excellent history of keeping animals healthy in captivity. We have confirmed that the two seals have adapted well to the Aquarium and are in good health and that the facility has recently been inspected by the NSPCA.

In conclusion, Seals, Seabirds and Shorebirds will be managed in terms of a policy for these species. The policy will be finalized within the next two months and would then be published in the Government Gazette. Implementation of the policy will follow and would include the management of seal and seabird interactions as per the policy.


Theressa Frantz
Director: Offshore & High Seas Fisheries Management
Date: 5 April 2007