Date: January 31, 2007
Press Release : January 31, 2007
Cape Fur Seals Flee
North into Extinction
Namibian Mainland Seals Fleeing Daily From Namibian Sealers
As the only species of seal breeding on the African continent, Cape fur seals when first sighted by the earliest European explorers, were described as a "sight honourable to behold" and their island habitats as, "in mine opinion, there is not an island in the world more frequented by seabirds and seals".
Named originally as the Cape fur seal, sealing ensured the complete extermination of these seals on islands off the Cape. By 1900, they were near extinction, with 99% of their former islands, remaining extinct to this day. No mainland colonies existed. This violation by sealers, forced the government of the day to place seals under the protection of the Cape Fish Act of 1893.
Annual permitted population reduction culls continued on islands. By 1940s, 11% of the remaining seal population had fled to Namibia. By the 1970s, Seals had fled and established mainland colonies in Namibia, where 50% of the seal population had now settled. By the 1990s it had risen to 75% of the population, and with it came officially the name change, from Cape fur seals to South African fur seals, no doubt to explain the loss of seals in the Cape.
Whilst less than 11% of today's seal population remains in the Cape with 99% of its former habitat (islands) still extinct. Namibia continues its annual population reduction cull on 90% of the babies born annually.
Left in the hands of politicians, scientists, conservationists and driven by sealers in Namibia, Cape fur seals will soon flee increasing to its third African country, Angola. As it does so, and is unnaturally forced, its food source the further north towards the equator these fur seals are forced to flee, diminishes, as too, does its chances of surviving in a hotter climate on the mainland.
Angolan Press Agency, reported yesterday that Angolan National Institute of Fishing will continue research on seals developing colonies on its mainland http://allafrica.com/stories/200701300483.html. A diamond-rich country recently out of a civil-war, there are already ominous signs, that not only are scientists from Namibia, South Africa and Angola in disagreement as to why seals are fleeing north, but that seal culling words, like "keeping the balance in the ecosystem" and Angolan Law on Biological and Aquatic Resources states, "the government must adopt the necessary measures to preserve this species", whilst being enlightened but its South African and Namibian sealing counter-parts that, "ANGOP has learnt that for seals to keep alive and in normal activity they need to eat at least four kilograms of fish daily".
Science speak for population reduction cull policies. It is unknown what the state of the fisheries in Angola is, after Russian factory ships and EU purchased 36 million in a cash payment fishing access, but it is almost certainly worse than the 447 000 tons of Pelagic removed by South Africa in 2000, or the 25 000 tons by Namibia.
Climate and fisheries wise, it makes no natural sense for seals to move north into warmer less abundant waters, unless the fear and disturbance caused by the Namibian sealing operations, becomes the unnatural over-riding factor.
Although scientifically it is believed that more than 50% of the Cape fur seals diet consists of non-commercial fish species, at four kilograms per seal per day, and the fear that after South Africa, and then Namibia has succeeded in driven the over one million seals, from their waters, Angolan's fisheries will be forced to cope with a sudden influx of 1.4 million tons of consumption by fish eating seals.
As a one-man organization supported by seal supporters from over seventy countries, Seal Alert-SA, already struggling to cope with the seal rescues in just South Africa, has its work cut out for it protecting seals now in three African countries.
It only real hope for the Cape fur seals now, is to have them unbanned from their historic islands in the Cape, and facilitate their re-introduction.
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA