This MUST become the focus of our 2008 Campaign - Francois.
----- Original Message -----
From: Seal Alert-SA
To: ap@sabc.co.za
Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2008 11:16 AM
Subject: Why Does Namibia Cull Baby (non-fish eaters) to Protect Fish Stocks - Nobody Will Answer?

SABC Seal Culling Issue.
 
    Seal Alert for the past decade, has asked one question - why do endangered baby Cape fur seals make up 90% of Namibia's annual seal cull?
 
    The Namibian Prime Minister when asked doesn't know, the Fisheries Minister won't answer, the Director of Marine Resources refuses to answer, CITES won't or says they can't interfere. WWF or IFAW does not know neither, with even IFAW excluding baby Cape fur seals in its recent EU seal import ban campaign. The originator of the recent EU declaration to ban seal imports, head of the Green Party and RSPCA, did not even know Namibia was culling baby seals.
 
    So how does Seal Alert get an answer to such an important question.
 
    Both South Africa and Namibia have stated they cull seals to reduce their consumption of fish, but the cull is based on slaughtering baby seals, who by definition are suckling milk and are therefore non fish-eaters. The breeding part of the population, the females are exempt from slaughter as is all other fish eating seals, except about 6000 bulls for the far east penis trade or those killed for trophy hunting.
 
    The recent Scientific European Food & Safety Authority Review has found Cape fur seal pups are weaned between 1 - 3 years of age. Seal culls occurs when pups are still nursing at between 7 and 11 months.
 
    For the past 100 years, govt's in South Africa and Namibia, have had a policy of culling baby Cape fur seals which account for 90% of the annual seal cull quota, although this species is listed by the United Nations Convention in Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) as an Appendix II endangered animal. Whose listing states, "Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival" and where 99% or 23 seal colonies of their original (offshore) habitat remains extinct, which includes the largest and second largest islands in South Africa and Namibia.
 
    Namibia's primary motive for this annual seal cull, is to reduce the fish consumption of the seals, for increased commercial fisheries quotas. Millions of baby seals have been slaughtered. Whose methods have been described in the recent (December 2006) Scientific European Food & Safety Authority Review as being cruel and inhumane, to herd seals together, and then club pups dependent and nursing, as they flee back to the sea, alongside their fleeing/escaping mothers.
 
    Europe has already taken a policy decision on the slaughter of baby seals commercially, with its ban on pup imports of the harp and hooded seal populations, in its Pup Directive legislation introduced in 1983. The harp seal species has never been endangered and is 5-times larger than Cape fur seals. Canada itself introduced regulations banning the slaughter of nursing baby seals in 1984. This is even with a collapsed cod fishery.
 
    Likewise non-sealing countries of Belgium, Mexico, Netherlands and Germany, with Italy, Croatia and the UK to follow soon,  have all recently banned Cape fur seal imports.
 
    All baby Cape fur seal skins were originally exported to the US, who reviewed these methods in '72, shortly after introducing legislation which prohibits the taking of a seal pup still nursing. At the time the seal cull started in August, when these babies were a month older (then current start of sealing), yet even with a Supreme court application in the US to overturn this ban or secure a waiver, (Which the SA Govt lost). the US has continued with this ban. This in turn lead govt to introduce legislation to protect Cape fur seals in 1973, which also saw govt privatize the seal culling industry, and to declare this species an Appendix II endangered species with CITES in 1977, and began legal exports of these baby seal skins to Europe. To which it now exports 100% of these seal skins. 
 
    The slaughter of nursing baby seals still account for 90% of the seal cull quota, with sealing season moved forward to kill baby seals, one month earlier/younger, starting in July.
 
    In the meeting with the Prime Minister of Namibia on the 7 July 2007, this exact question was asked, with the Fisheries Minister present. Why does Namibia cull baby seals to protect fish stocks?
 
    The Prime Minister replied, "I do not know the reason or why we have to kill baby seals, perhaps this question can be answered by the Minister who is sitting here".
    The Fisheries Minister replied, "We are out of time Prime Minister, this and all other questions will be answered in our meeting on the 9 August 2007".
 
    This question was again put to the Namibian Director of Marine Resources and the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries, Dr Moses Maurihungirire, in a recent EU/COWI meeting in Belgium, where he again could not answer the question, instead he offered, "Killing unweaned pups - why is this perceived as negative? The only difference is the diet, so why the sensitivity? 
 
    The question has never been answered.
 
    When Namibia became independent in 1990, its pup production was 187 221 to which it applied a pup quota of  27 800 pups. Which resulted in sealers killing 9 784 or just 35% of this "sustainable" set quota. 17 years later, the pup production is down to 120 000, and the pup quota has increased to 85 000.
 
    This leaves a reality, that 62% of the 120 000 pups born December 2006, will have died before sealing starts on July 1, from natural causes and mainland predation. That would leave 45 000 pups alive for sealers to club. Yet, their 'sustainable' quota issued by the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries, almost exceeds that number by double, with an 85 000 annual pup quota.
 
    In reality, Namibia's baby pup seal kills have increased 750% since independence.
 
    Namibian sealing regulations define a pup has less than one year old. 
 
Herewith is the contact details of the person in Namibia for the interview.
Dr.Moses Maurihungirire
Director: Resource Management
Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources
Private Bag 13355
Windhoek
Namibia
Tel +264 61 205 3114
Fax +264 61 220 558
Cel +264 81 129 3145
 
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
27-21-790 8774
link to sealmancam