September 19 - 20 : Good 'Seal Ambassador' Taken-Out by Marine and Coastal Management Official

Seal on PierPIETIE_2
PIETIE AND HIS FRIEND


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Seal Alert-SA Press Release, September 20, 2007
 
     Thank you to those that have written to the DG. Mystery regarding the sudden disappearance of this good seal ambassador deepens. Blitz the seal's keeper/guardian is deeply distraught and many who were opposed to his feeding of this bull seal, feel threatened that he may seek revenge in a violent or criminal way.
 
     There is clearly double standards at play here. Big white-owned businesses who exploit the seals and tourists alike, by charging them a fee to see the seals on the nearby offshore island seal colony (the seal operators) who contribute nothing to seal conservation from their multi-million dollar profits, were the loudest group condemning the enterprising activities of Blitz with this seal.
 
     In turn Marine and Coastal Management has doubled standards writing into law in 2000 making it a criminal offence to feed a seal, yet permit 16 white-shark cage diving operators to each take out 25kg of bait, with which to tease man-eating sharks, for the pure pleasure of exploiting both shark and tourists alike to the tune of millions in profits annually.
 
     Yet when a disadvantaged member of the locally community, who has been forced to experience the over-exploitation of the fisheries he grew up in, attempts to earn a similar and legal means of generating an income for him and his family in a sustainable way. Suddenly everybody opposes him.
 
     Is the real reason behind this seals removal, this competition factor Blitz and his seal, might have on their existing multi-million profits?
 
     The fact of the matter, is this seal has been around for years, and there is no recorded incident of this seal every being aggressive or biting anyone, although has been repeatedly provoked. Whilst ordinarily I agree wildlife should not be fed, this was a unique and special circumstance and relationship. A good ambassadorial activity in the making for both seals and humans.
 
     Mike Meyer the MCM official alleged to be involved in removing the seal and lethally injecting it. Is well know for his disregard for these seals welfare. He has repeated blown-up whales that could have been floated off stranded beaches, and has a long history of destroying so-called "problem" seals. I personally have witnessed this many times. In almost every case, he acted without authority, he was also involved in permitting a seal exporter to capture and retain live seals in very small crates, and then assisted in the cover-up and death of some of these seals. MCM officials had allegedly told Blitz that they would shoot the seal if he did not stop feeding it.
 
    Seal Alert-SA contacted Mike Meyer, where he told me, he had nothing to do with the removal or killing of this endangered seal. Although he knows about the seal, he claims he did not kill it or remove, and has no idea who did. This is somewhat strange, as another MCM official who works at the Head Office in the Financial department, told a trader in Hout Bay yesterday, that Mike Meyer came and captured the seal and injected it.
 
    What is disturbing is that if this indeed happened, and now MCM Officials are covering it up, then its clearly wrong. Secondly a local community forum, representative of the community, harbour and police had discussed this Blitz/Pietie situation and had come up with a plan to place a fence around Blitz and the seal. To allow him to continue earning an income whilst the public remained safe. Last, from my experience with thousands of bulls, at this time of year, bulls return to offshore colonies, living of their fat reserves, whilst they fight for and command harems, who then mate in December and afterwards begin the moult of the old coat, and by March disperse to new hunting grounds. 
 
     Nature in all probability will have ensured Pietie the bull seal stays away from the harbour for months until March, where upon in all likelihood this seal will have changed his behaviour, forgotten the harbour and remained a wild seal. 
 
     Seal Alert-SA believes the authorities need to actively engaged in assisting the previously disadvantaged community, who cannot afford multi-million dollar tourists boats to take tourists to see the seals. Crime is at an all time high, as is unemployment.
 
     It is therefore disturbing that such a secret activity took place, if indeed it did. The question is did it, and what is the departments position on this, as Blitz is currently attempting to replace Pietie, by encouraging a younger seal to take his place.
 
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
27-21-790 8774
 
----- Original Message -----
From: Sealalert
To: pyako@deat.gov.za ; Monde Mayekiso ; mwillemse@deat.gov.za ; Theressa Akkers ; Beryl Batties
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2007 9:22 PM
Subject: Good 'Seal Ambassador' Taken-Out by Marine and Coastal Management Official

Seal Alert-SA Press Release, September 19, 2007
 
     Could Seal Supporters please write to Director General of Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Pam Yako (
pyako@deat.gov.za) and politely ask her to investigate the full circumstances for this illegal killing of an endangered Cape fur seal, that has become international known and famous.

Good 'Seal Ambassador' Taken-Out by Marine and Coastal Management Official
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Hout Bay Harbour Landmark Pietie the Cape Fur Seal Bull
 

     Over the years, taking tourists from Hout Bay harbour to see the endangered Cape fur seals off Hout Bay has become one of the top ten attractions in the western Cape. Earning for its six big business, exclusive seal-island tour boat operators, millions in annual ticket sales.
 
     Over the past year, a very special relationship developed between a previously disadvantaged out-of-work fishermen >from the local community, who is also alleged to be a known robber of the visiting tourists. Blitz, as he is known had formed a unique relationship with one very large 300kg bull seal, whom he had befriended and nicknamed Pietie.
 
    In official literature Marine and Coastal Management Officials claim Cape fur seals are extremely dangerous and aggressive.
 
     Pietie, the endangered Cape fur seal bull, would wait each morning for Blitz to call him in the harbour water, where upon he would haul out on the quay-side, and proceed to Blitz. Where for the remainder of the morning, Pietie would allow Blitz to handle him, pull his ears, open his mouth and feed him by hand, to the delight of visiting children and tourists. Pietie even allowed Blitz to sit on his back, to the amusement of the tourists.
 
     This bull seal was a permanent fixture on the waterfront. With Blitz, an enterprising local would take advantage of the crowds that gathered by passing a hat around and asking for money "to buy some fish for my seal". It was a unusual relationship that worked for both man and beast.
 
     This unique relationship was on everybody's lips in the harbour, with even seasoned fishing skippers having to re-think their attitude and fear of Cape fur seals, such was the ambassadorial strength of this partnership.
 
     Plans were even underway with the Community Policing Forum, where it was decided to place a fence around the bull seal, where Blitz would be the only one allowed into the fenced area to feed and love his new found seal-friend. Blitz had, thanks to Pietie the seal, been finally able to turn his life around, support his family and earn a honest living.
 
    Sadly, officials tasked with protecting this endangered listed CITES seal species, protected under the Seabirds and Seals Protection Act of 1973, stepped in, and decided to remove this bull seal and destroy it by lethal injection.
 
    This official from Marine and Coastal Management, is neither qualified as a veterinarian to administer a lethal injection or is permitted to kill an endangered protected seal without just cause. His actions were therefore illegal.
 
    Unfortunately for Pietie the Bull seal, he was just days away from re-turning to his offshore colony, where he would use and live-off his accumulated excess weight, to win the right to command an offshore harem of cows and begin his annual mating season. Thereafter he would moult, and in all probability return to a life on the open sea and offshore islands.
 
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA 

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