NEWSLETTER

Q & A

 




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In putting this website together, we have aimed to make it as easy as possible to provide you with accurate, relevant and up to date information. In this section you will find the answers to some of the more common questions. 

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Each year the controversy around the seal cull rages on. What is different this time? 
  • The mere fact that there is a controversy is cause for alarm. It boils down to a simple case of unacceptable mass cruelty and the violation of recognised animal rights and welfare standards. The slaughtering of thousands of a CITES protected species and the removal of an apex predator from the food chain goes against every grain of scientifically proven conservation practices. 
  • In the past, any organizations that were involved opposing this massacre each led a separate and individual campaign. This time, by uniting under a general banner, we are able to pool our ideas, share resources and collectively inform our support base as to the atrocities happening in Namibia. Our combined strength is already paying dividends. We have staged protests in leading international cities, we have local and international celebrities endorsing our boycott and print, electronic and broadcast media around the world are reporting on the matter. We have capitalised on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and we are employing effective, target specific e-mail campaigns.

The Seals are eating the fish. Their numbers need to be controlled. 

  • The seal population has dropped from over 2 million to less than 650 000. They are a threatened species, appearing on both Appendix II of CITES as well as on the IUCN Red List. They have a natural mortality rate of over 30% in the first few weeks of being born. 90% of their preferred habitats of small off shore islands have been wiped out in the last 60 years. They have suffered several mass die offs, the most recent being in 2006 where an estimated 350 000 seals died from starvation. This is the largest die off of any marine mammal in recorded history. Cape Fur Seals will normally breed every third year. By killing the baby at seven months, the seal cows will breed EVERY year. If the seals are eating the fish, why are they beating baby seals to death? These juveniles are still suckling from the teat and only begin to eat solids at around 10 months. Is it simply coincidence their soft pelts are more valuable??  
  • Since independence, the Namibian government increased its annual fishing harvest from 300 000 tons to 600 000 tons without doing any sustainability studies. At the time, the colony stood at well over 1.5 million, and you can ask any avid fisherman, fish were PLENTIFUL in Namibia. The annual slaughter then killed 9 000 seals. Now, the population stands at 650 000 seals, there are no fish and they slaughter 86 000. This makes no sense. They are not doing this to protect fisheries. This is a blatant case of gross mismanagement of resources based on economic greed. When SA  ended our seal culling policy in 1990, our own fisheries were up in arms. But, SA fishing industry has seen nothing but positive growth.
  • Multiple news articles blame overfishing and the lack of compliance officials and monitoring vessels in the Benguela current. Illegal fishing is also taking a massive toll on the fish stocks. 

The best way to control their numbers would be to end this slaughter immediately, give the seals the protection they deserve and allow the population to stabilise and recover. 

 

The Slaughter provides much needed employment and is an important industry for Govt revenue.

 

The slaughter of seals in Namibia is not an industry. It amounts to nothing more than a small business. If a pelt retails for $7 and the govt get $2 of that, the equation is simple. US$2 x 86 000 seals = $172 000. Grannies knitting circle can do better. 

  •  When the annual quota for slaughter stood at 30 000 seals, 160 people were involved in the clubbing. The quota now stands at 86 000 and only 81 people are SEASONALLY employed for 4 months of the year. They earn less than R50/day. (Around US$8 per day) A seal pelt sells for US$7 It takes 6 pelts to make a coat. These coats sell for US$30 000.00 The money goes to a foreign Turkish businessman who sucks the money OUT of Namibia so he can live the high life in Australia. There is no profit sharing scheme in place. The workers live in tin shacks in shanties in Henties Bay. They cannot even feed their families. Drug and alcohol abuse is rife. Domestic violence is common. Beating hundreds of baby animals to death each day is an assault on their human dignity. They have no recourse to stress and trauma councelling.
  • A report commissioned by the Humane Society, The World Society for the Protection of Animals, Bont Voor Dieren and Respect for Animals clearly shows seal viewing can generate THREE HUNDRED times more revenue than the current slaughter. We believe that the seal colony should be developed into a brand, something people identify with as a national symbol, something to be proud of, rather than it being the current national disgrace. 
  • A medium sized hotel, with tours to the colony, sight seeing etc can employ as many as 1000 people. All year round. Niche markets can be developed for seal guano as fertilizer, conservation initiatives developed, skills training, job creation. Models based on eco-tourism show that 80 x more revenue can be generated with subsidary industries being developed. But no; Namibia will carry on violating its own laws to get a benefit of less than $180 000 in revenue.
  • If the Namibian government are so concerned about providing jobs for their own people, why are all their construction tenders being awarded to the Chinese (who also happen to have business interests in seal skins and products?) See the following relevant news articles Chinese outfits wipe out Nam builders as well as Building contract stuck in the starting blocks

Your decision to boycott has back fired. Namibia has now banned media from covering the cull and a boycott is unfair to the people of Namibia.

  • Boycott was NOT our first option. We began this campaign by first looking into a broad spectrum of alternatives. We approached the Namibian SPCA and asked them to intervene. To our shock and horror, it turned out they do not believe a seal is an animal and they publicly condoned the cull. We turned to the Ministry of Fisheries. In the face of no scientific evidence, the Ministry blamed the mismanagement of their own resources of the seals. Respected organizations from around the world pleaded with the government, the Ministry of Fisheries, the Directorate of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environment and Tourism. Francois Hugo met with the Prime Minister, campaigns got no-where. Individuals wrote letters to Namibian embassies around the world. Despite an EU ban on seal products, the seals continued to be slaughtered and journalists were getting beaten up and detained on non existent laws. After exhausting all possible angles, we found we were left with no other alternative but to institute an economic boycott.
  • Namibia are feeling the pressure. They have responded with a media ban. This is GREAT! We are absolutely thrilled! Firstly, it shows that the boycott is having an effect. It has got the Namibian Government to react. Now we have yet ANOTHER avenue to attack them with. Not only is this an animal rights issue, where Namibia are contravening their own animal protection act, this is also a human rights issue. Namibia are violating their media laws and the freedom of speech.  This ban violates Article 21 (1)(a) of the Namibian Constitution regarding free press. It also violates the Windhoek Declaration, which protects freedom of the press: 

"At multilateral level, SADC continues to enjoy mutually beneficial cooperation at Continental and international level. In this regard, at the April 2006 Consultative Conference, SADC and its International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) adopted the Windhoek Declaration, which is a Framework for a New Partnership between SADC and its ICPs."

  • It does not mean the media is out of the picture. On the contrary, by the very fact that Namibia has put this blanket ban on the media, more international media will demand to know what is going on. 
  • When South Africa was under Apartheid, we were hit with boycotts. This was done to generate media awareness and force a change in the status quo. Sadly people in South Africa were affected even though they did not support the government policy. While we regret this "collateral damage" we implore the citizens of Namibia to demand that the government change its seal culling policy with immediate effect. It is costing Namibia untold millions. It is tarnishing the reputation of a fantastic country and is crippling an already unstable economy. If change comes from within, the slaughter will be ended a lot sooner than from external pressure of foreigners. 

The slaughter of seals is about maintaining balance. It is a conservation initiative.

  •  The removal of any apex predator from the food chain goes against all scietifically proven and internationally accepted conservation practices. The fact that hundreds of thousands of these animals are bludgeoned to death, epecially since they are CITES listed, is nothing short of foolish, iniquitous, barbaric and savage. CITES does allow for a sustainable harvest. The conditions to this are that the harvest falls under the juristiction of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. This is not a sustainable harvest. It is a commercial harvest, as the slaughter falls under the Department of Fisheries. Here AGAIN, Namibia are contravening their own laws. The juristiction of the Department of Fisheries is the off-shore islands, the sea, the sea bed up to the high water mark. Slaughter takes place on a reserve, 150 meters ABOVE the high water mark

Have you ever been to see the colony or witnessed the slaughter?

  • No. By the same token, one does not need to have survived Auschwitz in order to know German Nazi concentration camps were horrific, despicable and vile.
Seal Heart Valves are being used extensively for medical research
  • . Mr. David Lavigne, science adviser for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, says he’s heard this story before. “We roll our eyes every time it comes up,” says Lavigne, who for 23 years taught zoology at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario. “It doesn’t seem very likely — or very necessary.”

    Mr. Lavigne, who has studied seals since 1969, says he is unaware of a demand for more bioprosthetic valves. Seals carry bacteria and viruses that could prove harmful to humans

    Except for Dr. Agathos and a few Quebec researchers, there appear to be few heart valve experts who know anything about seal valves and none using vales from Cape Fur Seals. Only valves from Harp seals appear in any experiments. We contacted several well-known heart institutions and those that responded said they had no one qualified to comment. One doctor from Australia could confirm no such experiments or research involving seal hearts was being undertaken in the entire country. We also sought comment about seal valves from Edwards Lifesciences, a 6200-employee company based in California that touts itself as “the global leader in the science of heart valves and homodynamic monitoring.” (It reported US$1.24 billion in sales in 2008.) In an email, Sarah Huoh, the company’s senior manager of global communications, said that “Edwards has not as a company done any research in the area.”

    Can I assist you guys by making a financial contribution?

    Certainly! It would be most appreciated. Simply send an email to info@thesealsofnam.org Thank you so much! Every little bit helps and we can assure you your donation will help make a difference.

    Seal Supporter
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