Subject: Cape Fur Seals, Finally Get Their New National Legislated Act - 2008
Date: March 28, 2008

Dear All Cape Fur Seal Supporters,

Cape Fur Seals, Finally Get Their New National Legislated Act - 2008

      Nine years ago. I was officially told in writing by the South African government that it is a criminal offence to rescue seals under the Seal Protection Act of 1973 and government was not prepared to consider seal rescue at this time. To continue to do so daily, of every minute of every hour in the will to save over 5000 seals their lives, would lead to police arrest, criminal convictions, fines and eventually incarceration for up to two years.
      For over 26 years no-one had tried or succeeded in trying to save their dying seal lives.
      I was told if you rock the boat, South Africa will resume commercial sealing, killing tens of thousands of baby seal lives.
      Standing very alone, knowing that for thousands of seals, their life or death, stood before me. I decided to hell with them. If I can't rescue seals under the Seal Protection Act of 1973, well then, I will just force them to write a new one, in which it will not be a criminal offence to rescue seals or protect them.
      So I started Seal Alert-SA, whose first act of defiance was to paint the side of my boat into a large school room black-board. Upon which every day I would write public seal messages to the government about the seals I was rescuing, for all to see.
      To confront the issue, to force change, I set up seal rescue in the busiest government controlled commercial fishing harbour in South Africa. Illegally and criminally, of course. That really pissed them off. Not in a once-off media campaign with a whole bunch of international volunteers, but daily single handed, I proceeded to rescue, save, disentangle and protect these amazing sea-creatures, right in their face. They threw the book at me. Discrediting me publicly, ruining me financially, intimidating me, arresting me, threatening me and making life hard, and succeeding in turning an entire very rough fishing community against me.
      Those were the days. Great days, great seal days.
      Eventually every fish that got stolen from a fisherman by a seal, became my seals. Every fisherman bitten, was bitten by my seals. Every seal that got shot, became my seal. Every poor catch fishermen had, become because of my seals. Slowly these seals became my seals and I became their saviour and their protector.
      Until a fisherman one day complained, "Seals now have more rights than I do".
      One reporter once wrote, "At the going out of the tide, he will save them".
      Well after thousands of letters, reports and emails. Hundreds of newspaper, radio and television interviews spanning across the globe, backed by a pioneering and loyal group of seal supporters from around the world in over 80 countries -
you. 13 lever-arch files with the Public Protectors 5 year investigation. Two State Presidents, Two Environmental Ministers, Two Deputy Director-Generals and Two Public Protectors. It finally happened.
       Some have stated that this is the most progressive legislation to protect seals in the world. I seriously have my doubts on this. Until seals are back on their rightful extinct islands, the battle for their survival, their freedom, is far from over, but at least it begins with solid national legislated foundations within which to work to address specific issues.
       On the 7 December 2007, the Cape fur seals of South Africa, finally got their new Act.
       With any luck, and continued support, this Act will serve the foundations for decades to come, to increase these seals protection.
       Namibia is now in my seal sights now.
       For all you have done, my biggest Thank You.
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
link to sealmancam


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