Halt The Seal Clubbing ! - Which Namibian Seal, Is A Pup ?

From: sasealion@wam.co.za
Date: June 22, 2008

Seal Alert-SA, Press Release, 22 June 2008
 
      One week to go before not 800 or 8 000, but 80 000 sentient seal pup mammals that can experience pain, distress, fear and others forms of suffering - are clubbed to death (Euorpean Food Safety Authority Scientific Findings).
 
       Last week, using the same seal picture I asked the question, which seal is a South African seal and which a Namibian seal, as South Africa stopped sealing in 1990, with no further need to control the population, club it commercially to create jobs or has there been any adverse impact to fisheries, environment or ecosystem. In fact, far from any negative impact, eco-tourism in seal viewing has flourished, and is now one of the top ten attractions in South Africa, earning in excess of R30 million. Under the Seal Protection Act it is now a criminal offence to kill a seal - and South Africa's human population is 25-times larger than Namibia - Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA.
 
       Is it not somewhat of a contradiction in Namibia's seal clubbing policy, that Dr Burger Oelofsen, Namibia's former Director of Marine Mammal Resources, a staunch supporter of seal clubbing, leaves the Ministry to become a partner in the only luxury guest lodge, Cape Cross Seal Lodge, whose sole attraction is offering tourists seal ecotourism to the seal colony ? Now I ask, as the dawn of seal clubbing season is about to begin, which of the seals in Namibia are pups?
 

Halt The Seal Clubbing ! 
- Which Namibian Seal,
Is A Pup ?

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Which seal pups are less than a year, and which are 1, 2 or 3 years of age ?
 

      It is truly disturbing when things are not of our own flesh and blood. How we just assume and take the littlest most obvious things for granted, even when we slaughter thousands so cruelly.
 
      Scientists in South Africa, Namibia, Australia and New Zealand who are working on fur seals use tooth sections of dead seals to determine their age. There is no other way.
 
      So how do Namibia's seal clubbers determine which alive seals running around in a seal colony of 300 000 seals of all age groups at 5am in the morning, some wet, some dry, particularly seals aged 1, 2 and 3 years of age, and which are pups less than one year (as per the sealing regulations)?
 
      Do these wild seals have a sign hanging around their neck saying - "Kill Me, I am a pup less than a year old" ?
 
      Do these sealers raise these pups from birth and therefore know each one individually, like livestock farmers would in an enclosed fenced environment, clearly not ? 
 
      If trained scientists cannot determine a seal pups age by looking at it, then should Namibia be allowed to continue with its 93% seal pup harvest of 80 000, less than one year old seal pups?
 
      The Namibian government since its independence in 1990, has given out sealing rights to club to death just under 1 million seal pups. Knowing that seal clubbers cannot tell the difference between a seal and a seal pup.

 

      On the 28 June 2007, last year, three days before sealers could go out into 70% of the Cape fur seal population breeding grounds and club baby seal pups to death. The Namibian government announced the seal quota. Cabinet approved, following a Marine Resources Advisory Council meeting, an annual seal quota of 80 000 pups and 6000 bulls. The same quota will apply for 2008 and 2009.
 
      Whilst Namibia's three sealing colonies seal population is lower than when Namibia became independent in 1990, Namibia has allowed sealers to increase their seal pup kills by 700%.
 
      Namibia's Commercial Sealing Industry is 93% seal pup based.
 
      Information Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, stated last year's mass die-off of seal pups was an indication that the quota should be reduced from previous years, when the quota was higher at 85 000 pups. On a mass die-off of seal pups, Namibia reduce it by just 6%, whilst the Ministry of Trade signed an export order with China to supply it with seal-oil. "The three-year rolling annual quota shall only be adjusted if there is a major improvement or reduction in the stock," she said. 
 
      No comment has been forthcoming from Namibia why its largest seal colony, which was awarded its highest sealing quota on record, which is also its biggest tourist attraction, earning over N$2 million from 70 000 tourists undertaking eco-tourism, completely collapsed 40 days into the 139 day sealing season in 2007, on 10 August 2007. 
 
      The seal harvesting season is from July 1 to November 15 each year.
 
      On 1 July, the average age of a seal pup is 7-month of age. It is still dependent and nursing on its mother's milk, as evident by the white milk vomited up in shock when clubbed to death.
 
      So in reality, this is a baby seal pup. Who at 4% of its adult seal weight, has the same weight percentage of that when a human baby is born.
 
      Namibian scientists confirm Cape fur seal pup natural mortality is very high, having increased from 25% to 62% on average. As it has more than doubled in recent years, and only 38% of the seal pups born survive, why is there still a need to commercially kill the remaining survivors ?
 
      The Namibian Prime Minister does not know why seal pups are killed or why the seal quota is 93% pup based, the thought has apparently never occurred to him.

 

      Namibian Regulations relating to the exploitation of Marine Resources, Part 1. Definitions and Part IV. Conservation Measures; Section 20, Seals, Government Gazette of the Republic of Namibia. 7 December 2001. Windhoek. Namibia.
 
      Defines a seal pup, as meaning a "pup" means a seal in its first year of life.
 
      4 Sealing Rights Holders with 7 - 15 year sealing rights granted in 2007, are permitted to hire workers to go out and club to death 80 000 seal pups per year, for the next two years.
 
      Last year in a Seals Press Release, Namibia defined these "Seal Clubber" as "140 unemployed, poor and destitute". Clearly these hired individuals cannot distinguish a seal pup from a seal.
 
      "Seal Clubber", is defined as a member of a sealing team equipped with a sealing club (pick-axe handle). Sealing Regulations - "(1) Seals must be harvested in the presence of at least one Fisheries Inspector, [who could be any staff member within the Ministry]. (2) A holder of a right must identify a group of pups to be harvested [But how?], which must be driven away from the sea and allowed to settle down before clubbing begins, care must be taken to facilitate the escape of adult seals [all seals older than 1 year]. (3) After the identified pups have settled down, they must be harvested as follows (a) a group of pups must be released from the group, in the direction of the sea; (b) a clubber must kill a pup by clubbing it on top of the head with a sealing club, when the group of pups (flee) past the clubbers (attempting to reach the safety of the sea). (c) The inspector overseeing the harvest must be satisfied that a pup, which has been clubbed, is dead (how, by clubbing it repeatedly?)"
 
       80 000 seal pups are to be clubbed to death this year.
 
       But, how do "Seal Clubbers" distinguish which group of pups to be clubbed, are seal pups less than one year old, according to the regulations, and which are older ? As clubbing a seal older than a year, would be in violation of the regulations and law.
 
       How many of the close to 1 million seal pups, who have been clubbed to death, were in violation of the regulations and were any of these sealers charged or convicted of these offences ever ?

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The picture above of two Cape fur seals, was taken side by side together by Seal Alert-SA, a few days ago, with no altering of sizes in anyway
 

       The picture of the two Cape fur seals above was taken on 9 June 2008 and has not been altered in anyway for size or shape. Francois Hugo rescued the seal on the left, a female and named her JT, in December 2006. The Seal pup on the right, a male and named him BB, was also rescued by Francois Hugo of Seal Alert, a year later, in December 2007. Both pups were rescued as new-born pups less than two weeks old, and both were jet black in colour when rescued.
 
       JT is from the 2006 pup production, and BB from the 2007 pup production. JT is therefore is one year older, and is now 1,7 years of age and is therefore no longer a pup, as defined by the sealing regulations. BB is just 7 months of age.
 

      So BB could be clubbed to death, but it would be illegal to club JT.
unknown
Does the size of any of these seals being clubbed in this misty day pic
resemble a 7 month old seal pup ?

 

      But, how do seal clubbers distinguish which is a pup when they attempt to club 80 000 seal pups on 1 July 2008?
 
      See actual footage of Namibia's sealing industry, Namibian government does not want the public to see
www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzPcAvEARwI.
 
      The Answer is - They Can't, neither can you or I, or the Namibian government, and as such Namibia should end its annual 93% pup cull of Cape fur seals immediately.
 
      On paper there are many reasons why Namibia's sealing industry is 93%, seal pup based. The other 7%, is made up of bull seals being shot for their genital exports for the far east, and why the sealing regulations have always specifically stated "Seal Pups of less than one year must be harvested".
 
      Without being able to assess the number of individual seals in a population, government could not issue sealing quotas. Therefore no sealing industry. Government is unable to quantify the number of seals, who are older than a year, with any accuracy in a population survey. However they can with new-born seal pups, who are born jet-black and cannot swim or leave the seal colony, and so can be counted from aerial pictures as they stand out. But that is in December, several months before sealing season starts.
 
      But this leads to another problem, once counted, how do you kill them. Because as baby seals they congregate in huge rookeries, which makes it impossible to shoot them individually, as the bullet will past through, injuring or killing seals nearby. As the seal grows older than a year, its pelt becomes economically unviable, as it becomes coarse, and requires tanning at huge cost.
 
      So economically, without knowing the population size government cannot issue a quota and the seal's skins after a year are not viable. So seals older than a year are not killed. Instead the idea, is to round up seal pups after they have shed their jet-black coat, however then these pups although still suckling and unweaned, appear to look like any other seal aged between 1 and 3 years.
 
      It is only in their size, that an idea can be obtained of their age, but with a wild population, growth in body size, is very much related to availability of food. Less food, slower growth. Equally female seals only reach one third to one quarter of bull seal weight and size, and therefore grow at 3 - 4 times slower in size.
 
     Namibia's press release stated last year, "we investigated the mass starvation of seals along the Namibian coast in 2006".
 
     In another press release, it stated, "Namibia is a land of good morals where the life of creatures (man or seal) enjoys a high level of respect and protection. We use methods intended to result in instantaneous death of the pups", clearly evidence on youtube shows otherwise, perhaps the reasons ultimately lies in seal clubbers being forced to club again and again the thicker skulls of 1, 2 and 3 year old seals, hence the immense cruelty and physical beatings graphically shown.
 
     Clearly Namibia must stop its Sealing Industry. 
 
     It is somewhat a sickness in mankind that an endangered wild seal pup must be repeatedly clubbed (assaulted) and beaten to death so that its raw pelt can be exported in order so that some Scottish man can wear a soft fur purse around his waist.
 
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
27-21-790 8774
10-years of Seal Rescue and Protection