The government argues that the kills are necessary because seals harm the fishing industry. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Upcoming talks will examine humane seal killing methods
Monday, July 11, 2011, 03:20 (GMT + 9)
A meeting in Walvis Bay later this month will see discussions on the sustainable harvesting of seals and alternative killing methods as well as the protection of the country’s fisheries. The parties involved are the Ministry of Fisheries, seal conservation lobby group Seal Alert SA, Prime Minister Nahas Angula and Ombudsman, John Walters.
“Seal Alert-SA will not call for a boycott provided the Ministry is willing to talk and move forward and find a solution for Cape fur seals,” informed Francois Hugo of Seal Alert SA. “I am sure boycott campaigns, which we organised in the past, are effective and hurt the Namibian economy significantly, however, I do not see this as a solution towards working to protect Cape fur seals in Namibia.”
The organisation commissioned a group of ocean law experts in March to provide a legal opinion on the laws around the harvest.
“It found the harvest to be unlawful, beyond jurisdiction, un-sustainable, cruel and in violation of various acts, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the constitution. The legal opinion was sent to all heads of state, including the Prime Minister and the President. The Ombudsman has also agreed to an investigation,” Hugo stated, reports Namibia Economist.
But Sea Shepherd and other lobby organisations believe that international boycott of Namibian products and services and associated campaigns are the best way to halt the “cruel” annual killing of seals.
Organisations worldwide pleaded with the government, the Ministry of Fisheries, the Directorate of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environment and Tourism, Hugo explained, but it was futile.
“Despite an European Union (EU) ban on seal products, 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,” said Pat Dickens, coordinator of Sea Shepherd.
“Since independence, the government has increased its annual fishing harvest from 300,000 to 600,000 tonnes without doing any sustainability studies. At the time, the colony stood at well over 1.5 million. […] Now, the population stands at 700,000 seals,” Dickens said.
Namibia plans to kill 86,000 seal pups this year between July and mid-September. The government argues that the kills are necessary because seals eat too many fish, which harms the fishing industry.
By Natalia Real