Why Is Namibia Culling A Declining Seal Population

From: Seal Alert-Sa
Subject: Why Is Namibia Culling A Declining Seal Population
Date: June 28, 2007 9:49:43 AM

Dear All Cape fur seal supporters,
    Below is a letter I have emailed and faxed to the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries. Could you in an effort to stop the cull of these baby Cape fur seals, print-out a copy and either email it, or better still fax to it the Namibian Ministry, Attention Permanent Secretary Nongula Mbako on + 264 61 233 286 or + 264 61 224 566 or use the emails below.
    Or, use these links for local embassies, 
http://www.embassyworld.com/embassy/namibia1.html and  
Please, Thank you.
For the Seals, Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
----- Original Message -----
From: Sealalert
To: secretary@namibia.org.za ; namibia@un.int ; lmupetami@mweb.com.na ; aiyambo@mfmr.gov.na ; ambanga@mfmr.gov.na
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2007 7:46 AM
Subject: Why Is Namibia Culling A Declining Seal Population

Seal Alert-SA Press Release, 28th June 2007
      Dear Minister Abraham Iyambo or the Permanent Secretary Nangula Mbako, could you please answer the below questions?

2 Days to Go to the Start of Namibia's Annual Pup Cull,
Why Is Namibia Culling A Declining Seal Population

       In 1977, the 173 member countries of the United Nations Convention In Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) listed Cape fur seals as an Appendix II endangered species.
       The Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources claims to harvest its Seal Population (90% pup based), based on a provision in the Constitution which allows for the sustainable use of natural resources.
       The Oxford English Dictionary states. Sustainable - "able to be sustained - avoiding depletion of natural resources".
       Since independence in 1990, Namibia's pup population (upon which the whole population is based) has
declined from 196 689 pups (1989) to 163 141 pups (2004).
       Population surveys supplied by - [1989 pup population supplied by the Commission on Sealing pg.52 and 2004 pup population supplied by Dr C Augustyn, Chief Director: Research, Antarctica and Islands at Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) - "Independent studies by a UCT researcher who has prepared a model on the current population estimates derived from aerial surveys over 33 years from 1972 to 2004"]
       Clearly Namibia's annual cull of its pups and bull seals is
not sustainable.
       Since South Africa stopping its commercial seal culling operations in 1990. The total South African seal population has
remained stable, with 105 101 pups (1989) to 105 345 pups (2004). Clearly proving that after fourteen (14) years of not culling seals, that no cull is needed.
       A cull is a scientific term used in terrestrial wildlife conservation to control (reduce) a wild population of animals in a restricted or fenced-in area. Its purpose should be once-off, humane and have no basis for an annual commercial harvesting industry.
      Last year, on 9 October 2006 (during the Namibian seal culling season), the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries released the following Media Release, headed, "Current Seal Mortalities Along the Namibian Coast" (see attached). Acknowledging very clearly by its own researchers that the seals in large numbers were dying from starvation. Described by one seal rights holder, Mr. Gys Cilliers of Seal Products, "confirmed that seal mortality matched that of the 1994 disaster year" (where one half of the seal population in Namibia starved to death).
     Why then did the Minister Abraham Iyambo recommend to the Namibia Cabinet to increase the 2006 pup cull >from 60 000 (2005) to 85 000 pups (2006)?
     Why if the whole Namibian pup population surveyed in 2004, was 163 141 pups, of which 122 355 (75% of the population) pups occurs on the two mainland seal culling colonies at Wolf/Atlas Bay and Cape Cross, of which (scientifically), these pups would experience a natural mortality of 30% within first year. Leaving at most 85 649 pups alive at the start of the 2006 sealing season on July 1, would the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries award an increased pup quota of 85 000 (that would harvest all the pups, 100%), excluding the mass mortality factors from starvation that occurred as well in 2006, under a sustainable use policy? This needs to be seriously answered? 
     With the Namibian seal population (scientifically) in decline since 1990, why is Namibia continuing its annual pup cull?
     Seal Alert-SA requests the Namibian Ministry to satisfactorily answer this question, before announcing its seal culling quota for 2007.
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
Tel/Fax 27-21-790 8774

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Ref: Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA

26th June 2007

His Excellency
Wibard Hellao
High Commission of the Republic of Namibia
702 Church Street
South Africa

Your Excellency


I refer to your letter dated 14 September 2006 (ref 1/3/8) in response to the public protests and deposition by Seal Alert-SA against the culling of seals at the coast of Namibia.

Statements made by the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries in your official press release dated 10 July 2006 (referred to in your letter) have proven to be incorrect when the Minister awarded the largest cull on record of 85 000 seal pups for the 2006 sealing season. The Namibian Ministry of Fisheries official press release dated 9 October 2006, headed, “Current Seal Mortalities Along The Namibian Coast”, clearly refute statements made in the 10 July release.

Clearly the seals suffered their 7
th mass mortality from starvation, matching that of the 1994 disaster year. As reported publicly by one of your own seal rights holder, Mr. Gys Cilliers of Seal Products. Stating, “When we started the harvesting season in July, the seals were already skinny. Conceded that Seal Products could not meet their pup quota. Harvesting season had to be suspended, for beaches to be cleaned and for dead seals to be buried. The season for pup culling ended early, there simply are not any more pups. Mr. Cilliers confirmed that seal mortality matched that of the 1994 disaster year”.

Clearly the Namibian Seal stock is
not healthy, as incorrectly stated by the Ministry. Nor too, is the Cape fur seal population not endangered. The 173-member countries of the UN/Cites (Convention in Trade of Endangered Species) listing of Cape fur seals under Appendix II on their endangered species list, would clearly disagree.

      Namibian Fisheries Minister Abraham Iyambo in his Annual Address to the Fishing Industry on February 20, 2006 stated very clearly the following. 2006 should be a year we focus on, "Restricting the level of fishing effort" and "Continue with responsible management and conservation of our fisheries resources".
       Although stating clearly in a letter to Seal Alert-SA that Namibia's "harvesting operations of seals is governed by the regulations of Marine Resources Act of 2001". He then increased the sealing pup quota from 60 000 to 85 000 and then, half-way through sealing season issuing another letter on 9 October 2006, "Current seal mortalities along the Namibian Coast". Where sealers themselves were unable to meet this quota, stopped harvesting operations to bury dead seal corpses (half the seal population died) and could find no more pups to kill, hardly sounds like, "restricting fishing effort, responsible management or conservation of this endangered fisheries resource", now does it?
      In his Annual Address, Minister Iyambo further stated,
New Fishing Rights - "Biological data indicate no need for new rights" and "There is a general need to decrease effort on all established commercial fisheries". Announcing, "Moratorium on new rights for at least next 5 years". He said, "A total of 33 rights of exploitation due expire end 2007, these rights include 2 sealing rights".
     Minister Iyambo set last year's 2006 sealing quota, at 6000 seal bulls and 85 000 seal pups, shared as follows between three sealing rights holders. Namibian Venison & Marine Products a quota to harvest of 38 050, Seal Products 32 950 and Cape Cross Seals 20 000.
     As Cape Cross Seals is a relatively new entrant into seal harvesting, clearly therefore the two established sealing rights holders, Namibian Venison & Marine Products and Seal Products,
rights expire in 2007.  
    Holding Minister Iyambo to his National Address, these two sealing rights holders cannot be renewed, as there is a
moratorium on new rights for at least the next 5 years.
    This would effectively end Namibia's sealing industry, and the Minister should announce an end publicly, before the start of the 2007 baby seal culling season, which normally starts on July 1.

In light of the fact, that as Namibia’s sealing quota is ninety percent (90%) pup based, that the US has banned imports of baby Cape fur seal products since 1971, as well as Mexico, and more recently Croatia, Belgium and Italy. As well as the fact that since 1983, the European Union has banned baby seal product imports, as well as the sealing countries themselves (Canada, Russia, Norway and Greenland) writing into their sealing regulations the banning on taking nursing baby seals in a harvest since 1987.

The Namibian Ministry should urgently consider ending its pup culling policy. As they are the only country in the world to currently cull endangered nursing baby seals.

As the four largest and most importance incoming tourist countries to Namibia, (US, Italy, Germany and Netherlands) have all recently introduced specific legislation banning Cape fur seal product imports. Their condemnation via their legislation should be noted.

As too, should South Africa’s decision in 1990, to stop culling, which since has seen no further increase in the seal population or a need to cull the seal population.

Seal Alert-SA trusts the Minister will honour his statements made in his Annual Address (20 February 2006), and maintain the moratorium on new fishing rights, thereby ending the sealing rights of two of the three sealing rights holders. To which effectively, Namibia should then end its Seal Culling policy.

We ask that the Namibian Cabinet is made immediately aware of these incorrect remarks by the Minister, the changes that have since occurred, as too, the recent banning by Germany and the Netherlands, and to then receive an official reply on your seal culling policy.

Confirmation that these two sealing rights, will not be renewed.

For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA