Date: July 10, 2007

Open Letter - Namibian Sealing Industry Fails Constitutions of South Africa and Namibia.


Namibian Sealing Industry,
Fails (Highest Court in Land)

South Africa and Namibia


Namibian Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Abraham Iyambo and South Africa Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Martinus van Schalkwyk. Please respond publicly to this open letter.
      Dated. July 10, 2007
      Dear Ministers,
Urgent Request To Halt 2007 Seal Cull.
      Past decade natural mortality of pups exceeds those pups alive after July 1, and exceeds the annual set TAC sealing pup quota. Seal population is now significantly lower than in 1993.
      Canadian sealers harvest weaned pups at 30 per cent of pup production. Namibian sealers harvest nursing pups 100 per cent plus of surviving pup population.
      I draw your attentions this past weekend to the global public outcry in the international media regarding Namibia's decision to cull 80 000 nursing baby Cape fur seal pups (non-fish eaters) rolling for three years to protect fish stocks. Rodrick Mukumbrira Associated Press Writer's article has unprecedently been carried in newspapers in Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Africa, United States, South Africa, Namibia, Turkey and Canada to name just a few, and CNN and FOXNews.
Read full article on Federal Radio in US
Sustainability. Scientific research states, pups born in December suffer a 62 per cent(natural cull) mortality due to declining environmental conditions by the start of sealing season on July 1. 
      Subtract 62 per cent >from the stated 2006 pup population of 185 000 = 70 000 pups alive July 1. To which an increased quota of 85 000 pups was awarded (2006). Subtract 62 per cent >from your stated 2007 pup population of 205 500 = 78 000 pups alive July 1. To which you award a rolling-three year, 80 000 pup quota per year.
Sealing Pup Quota. Since independence sealers have failed to reach annual set TAC sealing pup quota, averaging 60 per cent. By implication quotas are unreachable and therefore unsustainable. Sealing Pup quotas have increased 300 per cent in the last decade.
      This is not sustainable. Sealing pup quota in 2006 attempts to harvest 15 000 more seal pups than alive. It is in fact genocide of all the seal pups.
International Agreements. South Africa ratified itself in 1975, and nominated Cape fur seals in 1977 as an endangered species to the United Nations Convention In Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). Namibia ratified in 1991. Cape fur seals Appendix II listing, states their survival is dependent upon conservation measures.
      1990 Commission on Sealing chaired by John Hanks of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) advisory committee recommended a unified seal management policy for this single species of seal (South Africa and Namibia). Signature to the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem in realization of the Reykjavik declaration on Responsible Fisheries in the Ecosystem. Public Protector of the Republic of South Africa findings are the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has a Constitutional obligation to protect and promote the conservation of the Cape fur seals (November 2005).
      Cape fur seal products are banned >from import in United States of America since 1971, in Mexico, Croatia, Belgium, Italy, South Africa and most recently in Germany and Netherlands, your two largest incoming tourist country's. In violation of USA law, Namibian sealers in 2002 attempted to import 5000 seal skins into US which was seized. South Africa on two occasions in 2003,criminally convicted importer with skins exported from Namibian sealers.
       Namibia's seal pup quota sealing policy is in unlawful violation of international agreements, laws and Cites Convention.
Constitution. Minister Iyambo claims he is mandated to harvest seal under the Constitution. Not true. Under the Constitution the Ministry is mandated to utilize the seal resource sustainable. Consumptively or Non-consumptively. He cannot replace the word utilize with harvest, and as an option not apply a non-consumptive policy. South Africa has a non-consumptive seal management policy.
       Namibian seal cull is in unlawful violation of the South African and Namibian Constitution with regard to sustainability.
Sealing Rights. Having stated in your February 2006 Annual Address to the Fishing Industry that, "Biological data indicate no need for new rights. There is a general need to decreased effort on all established commercial fisheries". "Moratorium on new rights for at least next 5 years - unless a drastic change in resource". "Total of 33 rights of exploitation due to expire end 2007/early 2008, (of these) 2 sealing rights".
       Three sealing companies had sealing rights in 2006. You are duty bound to expire two of those Seal Rights in 2007.
On February 14, 1991. The South African Cabinet decided to temporarily suspend all commercial seal harvesting on the South African coast.
        Stating as its reasons;

    • Harvesting. The committee strongly recommends that there should be no further harvesting until a system of licensing and training sealers is in place to ensure the highest standards of humaneness.
      • Namibian Permanent Secretary Nangula Mbako, "Sealing industry sustain about 140 direct jobs for the unemployed, poor and destitute" (July 4, 2007).
    • Culling. The committee concluded that it was premature to determine the justification, or otherwise, for culling to alleviate the negative consequences of operational or biological seal-fishery interactions.
      • Government scientists, S Mecenero, SP Kirkman and JP Le Roux, "Although seals and fisheries utilize the same commercial prey resources, this does not automatically imply that there is competition between them .... Unless all this information, which is usually difficult to obtain, is available, competition between two resource utilizers cannot be determined effectively" (June 8, 2006).
        5.      Cruelty. As seal clubbers are unemployed, poor and destitute, they are therefore untrained or unskilled. Resulting in cruelty. See video-clip evidence
You state, (September 14, 2006), "All adult female seals are either nursing a newborn pup or are pregnant during the seal-harvesting season (July - November 15). Harvesting of females (which is exempt from cull) would endanger the life of new born and unborn pups".
       Sealers are forced to club tens of thousands of pups frequently. During the initial stampede to freedom or attempts to reach the safety of the sea. After being dragged semi-conscious to collection site. After being stabbed in the heart. Seal pups after repeated clubbing to head and stabbing in the chest/heart, still breathing and require further clubbing. Time delays of up to an hour between initial blow to head and the final breath. Pups vomit in shock mothers milk after initially blow to head and whilst cutting open chest to reach the heart.
       Culling, disturbing and rounding up 80 per cent of the seal population for 139 days is extremely cruel, stressful and is a threat to the species.
Population. Most recent scientific information available reveal that the seal population had recovered to 73 per cent of 1993 level (Namibian Ministry, July 10, 2006). Therefore in 2006, the seal population is 27 per cent lower than in 1993. In 2000, a further mass die-off involving 95 per cent of the pups and half the adult seal population, took place after a similar die-off in 1994. A further similar mass die-off occurred after sealing quota 2006 was announced. Unchanged biological conditions indicate a further die-off in 2007.
       Sealing country's of Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia introduced a ban on harvesting nursing baby seal pups in their sealing regulations in 1987.
       Namibia's annual seal cull is 90 per cent nursing seal pup based.
       As a South African, I am duty bound under South African Constitution and within my legal rights to enforce the protection and conservation of the Cape fur seal species, to which you are annihilating.
       For the above reasons, we respectfully request a public announcement halting the 2007 seal cull, with immediate effect.
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA