Namibia's Largest Contributor to GDP (De Beers Diamonds) Calls for EU Ban of Namibian Seal Products

Subject: Namibia's Largest Contributor to GDP (De Beers Diamonds) Calls for EU Ban of Namibian Seal Products
Date: February 14, 2008

    Dear All Cape Fur Seal Supporters,
         Whilst I was hurriedly trying to get some form of security in place, along a wall I believe the thieves were using to access the open roof of the centre. Which the steel company had promised to do on Friday, changing this later to Saturday. The thieves returned and stole more items on Friday night, although not that valuable, as I had by then removed most of the moveable valuable stuff.


     The biggest damage was the terror the thieves subjected the baby seals to. As the thieves are clearly addicted drug addicts (who are most likely poachers who hate seals) what exactly and how long they were in the centre is my deepest concern. The drug tik is a highly aggressive drug. Two of pups which suffered terribly at Elands Bay before rescued (rope around the seal pup strangled to death incident), who were rescued from a small cave in absolute terror. It has taken some time to get them to accept and trust me, and now this two break-ins within a week. The largest pup, named Jerry started isolating himself yesterday, then went into uncontrolled tremors, and started convulsing. I have seen death like this many times, and it is always related to stress and fear. Luckily I have been building him physically up strong, and have developed a cocktail of drugs and vitamins to pull them back from this state of organ failure.
     I did not lose Jerry last night, and today there is a much improvement in him, almost back to normal, eating, responding etc - although he is still isolating himself, which is a worrying concern.
     I have had the security increased on the wall (see pic above) and front access door for the moment, later in the week, they will complete the security which is hoped will prevent further access. It is at times like this, when one's mind is focused on trying to save their little lives in a life and death struggle. That the additional worry and effort, of trying to find funds to do security or fund their rehab - has been removed by kindness such as yours. For this I deeply thank you. To those that helped with funds to fund the security - I am beyond most grateful.


      JT above, last year's female pup, has decided to assist me with mothering, and comforts and allows the babies to suckle on her skin. JT has also taken to sleeping with the babies and is often seen wrapping her flippers around the babies as they sleep.
     As you will see below. I have just written to the EU. To truly understand the enormity of trying to end this pathetic stupid sealing industry in Namibia, even the largest taxpayer in Namibia, responsible for generating 45% of Namibia's foreign earnings, which provides half Namibia's funds for public services to maintain this country cannot get Namibia to end the sealing, and has had to resort to appealing to the EU to ask them to include Cape fur seals in the Ban. This is a company, De Beers that mines half the world's diamonds and used to control 80% of global diamond trade.
     I am forever grateful to De Beers for taking this public stance and clearly Namibian government officials have their knives or seal clubs out for me. To say I am disliked is an understatement, it appears from the writtings of the Minister of Tourism, that I could be close to Namibia's public enemy number 1.


----- Original Message -----
From: Seal Alert-SA
To: ;
Cc: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2008 11:38 AM
Subject: Namibia's Largest Contributor to GDP (De Beers Diamonds) Calls for EU Ban of Namibian Seal Products

    Dear All Interested and Concerned Parties,
    A factor which has received little attention in both the EFSA scientific review of sealing and the COWI report on the socio-economic aspects of a possible EU ban on Seal Imports, which is unique to the Namibian situation, is detailed below for your attention.
    Fifty percent of the annual pup sealing quota occurs on two of the three seal culling colonies in Namibia. The largest seal pup hunt in the world and second largest overall seal hunt. With these two sealing colonies occurring within the diamond restricted area controlled through a 50/50 partnership between De Beers and the Namibian government.
    According to the United Nations, much of Namibia's diamond trade is in the hands of De Beers, which mines half of the world's diamonds, and in the past controlled 80 % of the global diamond market, worth $50 billion.
    Diamonds is the single biggest industry in Namibia. Diamonds are also the single biggest export product for Namibia, bringing in 45% of foreign exchange earnings. Making De Beers the largest taxpayer, with Namibia spending half of this revenue on public services (mainly health, education and housing).
    In October 2006, De Beers Group Director of External Affairs, Rory MoreO'Ferrall wrote to Caroline Lucas originator of the Written Declaration to ban seal products in the EU, I quote, "On a personal level, I have some considerable sympathy with Seal Alert's cause to protect the Cape Fur seal. They have asked me to request that you
include these seals in your proposal before the European Parliament regarding seal products from Canada and Russia. Seal Alert fear, with some justification I believe, that a successful ban on seal products from those countries will serve to place even greater pressure on the Cape Fur seals". (see below for full text of this email)
    Although Cape fur seals were listed as an endangered species in 1977 by the United Nations - Convention in Trade of Endangered Species, with an Appendix II listing it was excluded from the EU
Seal Pup Directive and Habitats Directive in 1985. This lead Namibian sealers to export products of seal pups almost exclusively to EU. With the Namibian government awarding larger and larger un-sustainable sealing quotas. Since independence in 1990, pup quotas have increased over 750% from 9784 pups to 85 000 pups in 2006 (with rolling annual quotas for next three years). 90% of Namibia's sealing quota is nursing seal pup based. Whilst the species upon which the population is based on pup surveys declined 45%, from its peak in 1993 of 220 212 pups to 120 000 pups. (data supplied by Ministry of Fisheries during Seal Alert-SA's meeting in August 2007)
    At a recent meeting in Belgium with COWI, Namibian Director of Resource Management at the Ministry of Fisheries, Dr Moses Maurihungirire raised a few questions and was quoted as follows,

  • The report notes that the 'independence of inspections' is low - He doesn't know how inspectors could be independent, what does this mean? Says their ministry is independent.
  • Killing unweaned pups - why is this perceived as negative? The only difference is the diet, so why the sensitivity?
  • Herding - Psychological trauma, why is this perceived as negative and poor welfare?
  • Note on the failure to examine whether bull seals are alive or not following shooting - live seals flee if you approach them, plus its not safe to go into a big group of adult males so its not practical to check they're dead.
     Dr Moses Maurihungirire ended stating that Namibia practised eco-system based management, even if they wanted to stop sealing they couldn't simply exclude one species from the chain as the eco-system would be skewed. 
     Namibia commercial harvests 14 fish species with seal's diet consisting of 50% of non-commercially harvested fish species. There are 37 species of Whales and Dolphins and 5 species of Seals and Sea-lions found in Namibian waters. Scientifically it has been established that seal culls adversely effect commercial catch of hake. All marine mammals, of which are defined under Namibian Constitution as a Marine Resource, which are all excluded from commercial harvest under the marine regulations - except the only species of seal, Cape fur seals.
     The entire method of killing seal pups in Namibia, is illegal under Namibia's own laws, as in order for sealers to commercially cull these pups, sealers are required to round up and drive these pups outside of the permitted jurisdiction of their permits and the authority of the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, whose jurisdiction ends at the high tide water mark.
     Seal Alert-SA has demonstrated to the Prime Minister of Namibia (July 2007) and the various Ministries (August 2007) that seal eco-tourism revenue can more than surpass and replaced the existing seal industry. An industry, that is not even a small business, with 2 sealing rights holders who employ part-time 140 unskilled workers between July - November. 
     As the Namibian Minister of Tourism Asheeke recently wrote on an open forum web(, "I know for certain that the Seal Activist in South Africa is not sincere and is bent on economic sabotage in Namibia. For anyone .... anyone to threaten the tourism economy in Namibia which employes 71 000 people is economic sabotage of Namibia".
     Seal Alert-SA therefore implores all to consider requesting Namibia to end its seal culling policy, as South Africa voluntarily did 17 years ago in 1990, with no adverse impact to the economy, eco-system or loss of jobs.
     Alternatively, considering the threats sealing poses to this endangered seal species, which nobody has the right to cause its extinction, stand and support a ban and whatever measures are required to end seal culling in Namibia.
Dear Ms Lucas,
De Beers has been approached by Seal Alert in Cape Town regarding the cull of the Cape Fur seals in Namibia. I have made it clear to Seal Alert that:
De Beers does not support any seal culling activities De Beers has no involvement whatsoever in the current cull in Namibia De Beers does not own the land and only has rights for prospecting and mining of diamonds - we are not active in the Atlas and Wolf Bay areas where the cull is being conducted
De Beers does not have any right to deny access to people granted entry to these areas by the Government of Namibia De Beers does not, and will not, provide assistance or support to the cullers in anyway whatsoever De Beers has brought to the attention of the Government of Namibia the concerns of the international community and environmental organisations
De Beers has a real commitment both to the environment and to conservation. For example, we have created and manage game reserves around our mines in South Africa, with a particular focus on endangered species. We are supporting the development of birding routes linking our facilities in southern Africa. In Namibia we are conducting extensive studies to ensure our activities have no environmental impact on the biodiversity of the region.
On a personal level, I have some considerable sympathy with Seal Alert's cause to protect the Cape Fur seal. They have asked me to request that you include these seals in your proposal before the European Parliament regarding seal products from Canada and Russia. Seal Alert fear, with some justification I believe, that a successful ban on seal products from those countries will serve to place even greater pressure on the Cape Fur seals.
With regards,
Rory More O’Ferrall Director External Affairs De Beers Group 17 Charterhouse Street London EC1N 6RA Tel:  + 44 (0) 207 430 3126 Fax: + 44 (0) 207 831 0663
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA

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Date: February 5, 2008

Dear All Seal Alert-SA Supporters,
      Finally I have had the chance to compile a list of possible supporters of Cape fur seals. We number 197. Not large by any standard. Although we have no active membership, many have financially supported - and for this I thank each one of you. (If any of you no longer want to receive updates just send a heading un-subscribe).


      What's up on the seal front. After completing two reports for the EU, I await the outcome of the EU Commissioners findings. It makes me proud to know that a process that initially only included harp and hooded seals of the northern hemisphere, has now equally includes all species of seals (although it created much in-fighting). Costing Seal Alert-SA its only sponsoring organization facilitating its rescue of seals. At least, finally the plight of the Cape fur seals are firmly on the radar of the EU, and it is hoped a ban on imports will come soon.
     Whilst my meeting with the Prime Minister of Namibia did not achieve much, Namibia was at a recent EU meeting on the seals.
      With Namibia, with 70% of the Cape fur seal population confirming that the December 2005 pup count of 205 500 pups had dropped 44% to 120 000 pups in December 2006. Things are indeed grave for these seals future.


      Consider the following. About 200 000 seal pups get born in the wild. 32% - 62% will not survive the year, with most dying of starvation. At some seal colonies 70% wash off and drown from inappropriate forced upon small rocks to bred in their first month from birth, whilst large islands remain banned to them. That leaves about 136 000 - 76 000 pups alive by July, prior to the Namibian sealing season. To which Namibia awards an 80 - 85 000 pup clubbing quota. In essence, not many have any hope of seeing their first year of life through, if you add, starvation, jackal and white shark predation, illegal shooting by 30 000 fishermen, entanglement from fishing industry and drowning in any one of 65 000 trawl nets. The chance of an adorable black new-born pup making it are slim indeed.


     Knowing first hand what is going on along thousands of kilometres of coastline in two countries (much of the coastline desert or inaccessible), where even members of the public use their dogs to attack baby seals washed ashore. The ability to offer these babies some hope, is even slimmer.
     Whilst I am doing everything I can to address all of this in a hundred different ways. The bottom-line is that each and every little life counts. To physically intervene and save one will take 12 months of daily care, each at a limiting cost of R10 000. When caring members of the public find a baby pup and place the call, each call comes with a R10 000 burden of cost. 5 rescue call-out calls in a day R50 000. Whilst South Africa has 9 offshore seal colonies, just at one colony during December 500-700 wash ashore, every day of the month. 8 500 dead pups is not uncommon from one colony.  Most will have already drowned, but a few do make it to shore alive. Literally, I could rescue thousands, and I will not even go into the killing fields in Namibia, where 200 pups walk together into the sand dunes to die. To witness a baby marine mammal walk away from his survival the sea to die in a hot desert. Is something quite haunting.
     To the point of this email. I rescued 13, days old baby seal pups this season. Each with a nightmarish story to tell, and I mean you worst nightmare. In the past I had incredible difficulty getting more than one pup at a time to survive, as their survival is dependent on the strong bond developed with you over the coming 12 months. They are terrified of us humans. Over the years, I have mastered it, and last year successfully got a group of three through their long rehab. On a German wildlife TV program I was wildlife Nanny of the Month.
     JT the first female successfully rehabbed (seen above) although released onto the rafts and catamaran outside the seal centre, refuses to go, and prefers to be by my side. She is now 14 months old. 8 babies did not make it this year, but after 30 days, we have 5 surviving and growing stronger.
     They have been called Berrick (the bull-dozer), BB (Black Beauty), Tom and Jerry ( from the sick carnage at Elands Bay) and little Robbie.
     As you all know, I have a further 25-50 seals (larger ones) of all sorts of problems needing help, entangled, starving, gun-shots and open wounds on the rafts outside. On Saturday night thieves broke in, terrified the baby pups, and stole thousands of rands worth of drysuits, wetsuits and power tools. With an open roof, I can not get insurance nor afford it. They are bound to come back. To increase security will cost a further R3 500 (as an absolute minimum). Tomorrow, I will purchase my last batch of fish for the seal pup rehab, which should last me for the month of February. After this purchase of fish, my bank account is kaput - empty.
     Appeal for funding for outside wall and ramp, did not receive the support it needed, and the funds received was used to keeping the rehab going from day to day instead. A quote to fibre re-glass the two internal pools (much needed) is quoted as R16 000.
     It would be safe so say I am somewhat in a prickle financially (well actually have always been but after a decade of doing this always somehow gets through).
     So these are the facts, and my reality, I love these 5 babies dearly, and would love to see them join the other seals in the wild. It is the greatest reward saving their baby lives. The rest as always is up to you. In the hope you can help my banking details below. (PS - posting a cheque is also fine).
Seal Alert-SA Postal Address. SEAL ALERT-SA, BOX 221, POSTNET, HOUT BAY, 7872, SOUTH AFRICA

ZAR is South  AfricanRand

More information to be able to send the money via  internet:

SEAL ALERT-SA ACC : 911 2201 321
BRANCH CODE : 632  005


Bank name : ABSA
City/code : TABLE VIEW, 7439
Country : South  Africa

For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
021-790 8774