Namibian Sealing Scientists A Discredit to the Scientific Community

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Open Letter - Permission to Publish, Paste and Copy

From: SEAL ALERT-SA
Date: July 13, 2008

Dear Cape Fur Seal Supporters,
 
     Still no word from the Namibian government on its sealing policy or population data, so please keep writing to the Prime Minister Nahas Angula
nangula@opm.gov.na .This cruelty to seals must stop !

Namibian Sealing Scientists A Discredit to the Scientific Community
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Cape fur seal pup nursing on its mother

 
       Until recently Namibian sealers used to club seal pups to death in August, when they were 8 months of age. Now the majority of seal pup clubbing occurs in July.
 
       Why is the Namibian Sealing Quota 90% nursing seal pup based, and why does regulations define than a seal pup must be < 1 year old, if all the pups are born collectively in December, and sealing pup season starts in July, when all pups are aged 7 months - and all still nursing?
 
       When the US introduced the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972, for all seal species, it deemed that killing a seal pup nursing or less than 8 months of age, whichever occurs later, to be cruel. For obviously reasons as it violated the breeding behaviour of these wild species. This Act applied to all seal species anywhere in the world.
 
       Cruelty to Animals under Namibia's own laws and Animal Protection Act since 1962 is a punishable offence requiring criminal prosecution.
 
       In 1977, United Nations - Convention In Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) listed Cape fur seals as an Appendix II endangered species.
 
       In 1983, 27-member countries of the EU banned the importation of nursing seal pup products from the Harp and Hooded Seal species. Species which have never been officially listed as endangered.
 
       In 1987, the Canadian department of Fisheries and Oceans Sealing Regulations state, the seals hunted today must be independent, self-reliant animals. The commercial hunt of nursing seal pups is banned in Canada.
 
       In 1990, South Africa stopped commercially clubbing Cape fur seals or their pups.
 
       Namibian government bases its entire seal clubbing industry on clubbing dependent, reliant on mothers, nursing seal pups.
 
       Namibian government and sealing scientists could not care less about world conservation or animal cruelty, and have continued to award sealing quotas which are 90% nursing seal pup based.
 
       In a study conducted in 1975 on the stomach contents of the seal pups killed in the sealing colonies in Namibia, only 8%, contained solid food. 81% of these contained solid food comprising of crab and crayfish (crustaceans). Less than 2% of the pups killed had solid fish in their stomach, all the rest, either had no solid food or were drinking milk.
 
       Namibia claims it is culling nursing seal pups to protect commercial fish stocks.
 
       Sealers want to harvest the pups soon after they shed their birth coat which is black and have slowly moulted into their first coat which is greyish silver, as this has the most commercial value.
 
       The first coat starts appearing after 4-6 months of age. The younger the seal pups are, the easier it is for sealers to herd them together and club to death. However, as their major commercial market for these seal pelts lies in the US which has banned nursing seal pup product imports. Namibian government had to use its scientists to fool the importing countries. 
 
       Its a question of commercial export profit versus seal cruelty.
 
       Sealing Scientists were tasked to get around this cruelty "8 month old or still nursing" limit defined in the US - MMPA Act.
 
       Easy, Scientists
tentatively concluded that nursing is no longer obligate (as defined as necessary for the health and survival of the pup - scientific speak for nonsense) from July onwards.
 
       After taking the US government to court, and losing on Appeal. Sealers moved seal product exports to Europe.
 
       Cape fur seals nurse their pups constantly for an entire year (December - December), and even continue into a second and third year.
 
       Namibian scientist Caroline Kirchner would have us all still believe in 2007 that all pups are weaned by 1 July, even when a study in 1975 concluded that on 1 August only half the pups were 8 months or older.

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      Contradicting this on the same day (see above chart from MFMR), Scientists at Ministry of Fisheries,  deputy director of Marine Resources BJ van Zyl and JP Roux, claim weaning starts mid-way in July, and continues to October, just to cover themselves further.
 
      Its all a complete pack of lies and fabrication and biological nonsense.
 
      Each female pupping cow seal usually only produces one pup (twin pups are very rare), yet she has 4 milking nipples which can easily support the milking needs of a new born pup throughout the year (December - December), and the nursing of a pup born the year previously, even perhaps milking both her pups for 3 or even a 4th year.
 
      The first video-clip taken at Cape Cross Sealing Colony on 19 December 2007, proves conclusively that a seal,
that is clearly older than a year old (who could even be 2 or even 3 years old), is still very much nursing and milking on his mother, www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYICRnxu13U&feature=email, with all 4 nipples active (clearly the new-born seal pup that the mother would have had weeks earlier did not survive as that pup would have a new born black pelt when born in December).
 
      The second video-clip, also taken at Cape Cross Sealing Colony on 4 February 2008, illustrates the deep parental bonds these seal mothers display over their young pups, even pups that have died from natural causes, and are completely dead, as she still tries to defend its dead carcass from a pack of jackals
www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOSK9ENjmSk&feature=email.
 
      The moral of this release, is that Namibia's sealing industry is cruel in every aspect. Seal pups are NOT weaned prior to Sealing Season and Seal Mother's will and do protect and mourn the loss of their young.
 
      Namibia's sealing industry is based on cruelly clubbing 80 000 nursing seal pups to death - banned throughout the world by sealing countries and seal product import countries.
 
       For the Namibian government to support this CRUELTY as a national policy and defend it, implies its leadership is immoral and cruel, and hence should be boycotted as a tourism destination.
 
       Please sign our on-line petition :

www.petitiononline.com/DPCFS/petition.html
 and include your email address for further updates.
 
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
http://www.youtube.com/user/sealmancam
10 years of Seal Protection and Rescue

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dear All Cape Fur Seal Supporters,
 
    I have sent an Open Letter to the below individuals requesting details why Seal Pup Clubbing is NOT an offence under the Animal Protection Act in Namibia - Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
----- Original Message -----
From: Seal Alert-SA
To: Moses Maurihungirire ; nangula@opm.gov.na ; Information@NEWS-Namibia.org ; spcawhk@mweb.com.na ; fau@nspca.co.za ; clairebass@wspa.org.uk ; jbell@ifaw.org
Sent: Tuesday, July 08, 2008 7:17 AM
Subject: Seal Alert-SA Seeks to Charge the Minister of Fisheries & Marine Resources, 4 Seal Rights Holders and 140 Seal Clubbers with Animal Cruelty

Seal Alert-SA, Press Release, 8 July 2008

Seal Alert-SA Seeks to Charge the Minister of Fisheries & Marine Resources,
4 Seal Rights Holders and 140 Seal Clubbers with Animal Cruelty
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Francois Hugo of Seal Alert-SA meeting the Prime Minister of Namibia Nahas Angula, last year
 
Open Letter
Permission to Publish, Paste and Copy
 

      On 1 July 2008, the Minister of Fisheries & Marine Resources awarded 4 Seal Rights Holders and their 140 Seal Clubbers the right to herd together 80 000 wild seal pups between 1 July - 15 November, and to club these seals pups on the head until dead, on three mainland desert beach seal colonies.
 
      This is clear animal cruelty under the Animal Protection Act of 1962. Seal Alert-SA wants to know why this offence has never been prosecuted in Namibia?
 
      Under the law, are all Namibian citizens not equal or does different laws apply to seal clubbers?
 
      Is clubbing 80 000 seal pups, which started on 1 July, an offence of animal cruelty ?
 
      This is the largest slaughter of wildlife mammals on the African continent.
 
      Under the Animal Protection Act of 1962, an "Animal" means "any wild animal under control of any person". Offences, "Any Person" who, "ill-treats, infuriates, tortures, maims, cruelly beats, clubs, kicks, goads or terrifies any animal", is guilty of the offence of animal cruelty.
 
      Deputy-Director of Marine Resources and the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries BJ van Zyl has stated that Namibia's seals are killed according to the Seabirds and Seals Protection Act of 1973, this "Act" states, it is an offence, "pursue or shoot at or wilfully disturb, kill or capture any seal", he states further the seal killing is regulated under the Sealing Regulations of 1976, which states, "A holder of a right relating to the harvest of seals must identify a group of pups to be harvested, which must be driven away from the sea and allowed to settle down before clubbing begins. A Clubber must kill a pup by clubbing it on the top of the head with a sealing club, until an inspector overseeing the harvest is satisfied the pup, which has been clubbed, is dead".
 
     The jurisdiction of the Marine Resources Act of 2000 ends in regard to the coastline, at "the high-tide water mark".
 
     Seals are herded beyond this jurisdiction and then clubbed to death.
 
     It is clear, these Sealing Regulations of 1976, are in legal conflict with the Animal Protection Act of 1962 and the Sea-birds and Seals Protection Act of 1973, and the jurisdiction of the Marine Resources Act of 2000.
 
     Does the Minister of Fisheries therefore have a lawful and legal right, to regulate seal killing with a regulation that causes these various animal and seal cruelty offences to be committed as a national policy ?
 
     Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, states it is harvesting seals in accordance with Article 95 (1) of the Constitution, "the utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians", yet Article article 101 states, "The principles of state policy contained in this Chapter shall not of and by themselves be legally enforceable by any Court".
 
     So is the Minister guilty of the offence of Animal Cruelty under Namibia's own internal laws.
 
     Does a "regulation" exceed an "Act" in law ?
 
     Two independent US veterinarians judged that the sealing on two mainland seal colonies did not attain the standard of humaneness required by the US Department of Commerce in 1974. So according to the US Animal Protection laws the Minister is guilty of this offence.
 
     On 16 or 23 July 2008, 27-member countries of the EU, will vote to decide whether or not to ban imports from seal products killed inhumanely, as defined by seal clubbing.
 
     If the EU does approve the ban, will Namibia stop its seal clubbing policy, as does not this prove further, that this is animal cruelty ?
 
     As Seal Alert-SA is not a resident or citizen of Namibia, this organization cannot therefore lay criminal charges against the Minister or the Sealers in Namibia. Seal Alert-SA however questions why the Namibian Wildlife Society (
Information@NEWS-Namibia.org ) or  the Namibian SPCA (spcawhk@mweb.com.na) or the Minister of Justice or Veterinary Society, has not laid charges of cruelty against the Minister of Fisheries ?
 
     I have spoken to Celeste Houseman, Global Campaign Manager for the NSPCA (
fau@nspca.co.za) who has confirmed it is an offence of animal cruelty what Namibian sealers are doing. Perhaps, Clare Bass of Marine Mammals at the World Society for the Protection of Animals (clairebass@wspa.org.uk), both of whom attended the meetings set up by the Prime Minister of Namibia in August, last year, can explain why they have not as organizations legislated to protect animals from cruelty, have not brought charges against the Minister in court ? Perhaps too, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in South Africa (jbell@ifaw.org) and Humane Society International, could explain this issue a little clearer, as both are campaigning to end the Namibian Seal Pup Slaughter ?
 
    Is the Ministry of Fisheries statement that there is no other humane way to kill these seals, an explanation a legal court of law would accept ? Surely the court's reply would be "don't kill them", if you do continue clubbing seals, you will be committing an offence of animal cruelty.
 
    I am no legal expert. I do feel my arguments above have legal merit. Is it therefore not the duty of the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources to get legal clarification on this, and release this legal opinion publicly.
 
    Should the Minister simply ignore this request, does that in itself not imply guilt ?
 
    Should the Prime Minister of Namibia Nahas Angula (
nangula@opm.gov.na) not just step in, and call a moratorium on sealing clubbing until this legal opinion is obtained ?
 
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
http://www.petitiononline.com/DPCFS/petition.html