Menkit Price
August 9, 2006 12:52:50 PM GMT

Namibian seals - flier and article

hi everyone

Attached is a trifold brochure I created for the seals along with a summary of the issue condensed down from 47 pages of Francois' emails.

Hope you can find some use for it. Feel free to edit, substitute your name for contact person in the flier etc.

For the seals,


SealAlert-SA wrote:
FYI- Francois.

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, August 08, 2006 2:08 PM
Subject: Re: Trade in seals

Dear Mr Seller,
    Accepted - I will await your findings.
    Thank you for replying to these concerns so promptly.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, August 08, 2006 1:36 PM
Subject: Re: Trade in seals

Dear Mr Hugo,

I can only repeat what I told you earlier today - 'sealing' is not a matter for CITES.  It is a domestic harvesting issue.  It also appears to be a matter that is being determined by a government department that is not responsible for CITES issues.

The provisions of CITES come into effect when an application is made for a CITES export permit.  At that stage, the CITES authorities (the Management Authority and the Scientific Authority) would require to determine whether specimens declared for export had been obtained in a non-detrimental manner and whether they were legally acquired.

I appreciate that it may not appear logical if, theoretically, one was to harvest specimens of a species in a manner that might arguably predictably be non-detrimental. However, the Convention does not impose any obligation for Parties to 'look into the future' in such a manner. The provisions of the Convention take effect at the time when an export is being considered and not when the specimens are being harvested.  This is because, for many species, harvests will include both domestic and international trade use.  

I offered my original comments by way of clarification and do so again.  I do not, however, intend to enter into detailed correspondence on this subject.  Once I have anything relevant to communicate to you, I will be in contact again.

Yours sincerely,


08/08/2006 01:14 PM


Re: Trade in seals

Dear Mr Sellar,
    Thank you for this reply and insight.
    I refer to your third paragraph, as an Appendix II species -
An export permit may be issued only if the specimen was legally obtained and if the export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species - how then is a Namibian 2006 sealing quota on 75% of the seal population - still 27% below pre-1993 populations levels - that will see a total pup extermination or genocidal cull - not considered a matter of the convention. Considering that these quotas are given to commercial sealers to export and in which their regulations state they are required to make use of the whole quota? Bearing in mind the seal population has still not recovered from the one third to one half mass die-off's in 1994, 1995, 2000 and in 2001.
   Furthermore I refer to your website - Notification to the Parties no. 2000/060 Geneva 3 November 2000 - Alleged Illicit trade in ivory. I quota - "With regard to the allegation concerning Namibia ... the Secretariat responded immediately" (see attached CITES Notification).
   How then can you state CITES does not investigate allegations?
   I understand that CITES does not bring criminal charges themselves, but does this preclude them from requesting these charges be laid if allegations are substantiated or making an official recommendation or bringing in trade restrictions involving all wildlife trade?
In light of the seriousness of the information placed before you by Seal Alert-SA, where for example the Namibian Minister acknowledged that the seal population still 10% lower than pre-1993 level, doubled the sealing quota and then a month after sealing season ended, announced it had suffered its largest mass die-off from starvation and then proceeded to export 117 000 skins in 2002, where the US seized 5000 and South Africa convicted an importer in 2003- surely these issues should have been addressed as far back as 1994 - and these sealers and or the Minister charged.
I look forward to receiving a report back as urgently as possible, in light of the fact, that sealing is already over one month into its sealing season.
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, August 08, 2006 11:26 AM
Subject: Trade in seals

Dear Mr Hugo,

As discussed in our telephone conversation of this morning, I can confirm receipt of your messages relating to trade in seal specimens from Namibia. I have passed a copy of your messages to the CITES Management Authority of Namibia and have asked it to comment.

Having noted some of the remarks in media articles that you have provided to us, I believe it may be useful if I make some comments of clarification beyond those that I made during our telephone conversation. I trust this will help avoid any expectations on your behalf that may not reflect the role and responsibilities of the CITES Secretariat. I also hope this will help you in any future dealings you may have with the media and avoid any misunderstandings being communicated to the media or the general public.

I wish to emphasize again that CITES is a convention that relates to international trade.  Domestic issues, such as harvesting and culls, are not a matter for the Convention. Consequently, the "slaughter of seal pups" cannot be in contravention of CITES, as referred to in one article.

The CITES Secretariat does not "investigate" allegations.  This is a matter for national authorities. Our role is to study implementation of the Convention and make any recommendations that we deem appropriate.  Where necessary, if we believe there is inadequate implementation of or non-compliance with the provisions of the Convention, we would bring such matters to the attention of the Standing Committee or Conference of the Parties and recommend relevant action. However, in the majority of cases, we are able to resolve such issues through communication with the country in question.

The CITES Secretariat does not bring criminal charges against anyone; whether that is individuals, organizations or governments.  Any prosecutions that take place with regard to violations of the Convention are a matter for national prosecution authorities and any charges would be brought under national legislation and not the Convention.

I hope the above comments will be of use.

I will advise you of any information we receive in relation to your allegations.

Yours sincerely,