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Namibia Secretary Falsifies Seal Population


October 12, 2006

Namibian Permanent Secretary Falsifies Seal Population to Conceal its Unlawful Seal Cull policy

On the 9th of October 2006, Namibian Fisheries Permanent Secretary Nangula Mbako released a media statement into reports of large numbers of seals dying along the Namibian coastline, whilst Namibia's largest nursing baby seal cull of 85 000 continues by three sealing concessionaires.

In an attempt to deny responsibility, Ms Mbako attempts to falsify the seal population figures and describes the reason for the mass deaths from starvation as an over-population of the species, less than three months into Namibia's sealing season due to end on November 15.

Permanent Secretary Mbako stated, "Recent scientific research has shown an increase of the seal population by more than 73% in the Namibian waters as compared to the 1993 estimates". (see media report - http://allafrica.com/stories/200610110044.html)

This statement is in direct contradiction of Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Abraham Iyambo's media conference in July at the start of the seal cull, where he stated, "The seal population in Namibia had in fact enjoyed an overall recovery rate of 73%, compared to the 1993 level", stating further, "of which pups were around 185 000".

Francois Hugo of Seal Alert-SA would therefore like to clarify this is misinformation being put out by Namibian officials.

The continual reference to 1993 seal population in 2006, is that this 1993 seal population was the highest-peak every recorded for the seal population. Publicly known mass die-off's from starvation that effected between one half to one third of the seal population occurred thereafter in each incident in 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000 and in 2001. There was also one in 1988 and clearly in 2006, another is occurring. The seal population has therefore never recovered from the 1994 mass die-off incident, yet seal culling has increased from 32 545 pups (1994) to 85 000 pups (2006).

According to Minister Iyambo in July there was 185 000 pups (claiming 73% of 1993 population levels).

According to Permanent Secretary Mbako in October, the pup population has increased by more than 73% compared to 1993 to 379 939 pups.

The total South African and Namibian Seal population has never in its officially recorded population survey's every recorded a seal population for both countries exceeding 324 000 pups.

Seal Alert-SA is in possession of the official colony by colony population surveys, and in 1993, pup population surveys for all 16 seal colonies in Namibia revealed that there were 219 618 pups. Clearly 185 000 pups announced by the Minister in July, 2006, is below the seal pup population recorded in 1993. In fact, the 185 000 pups is the same number recorded in the 1982 seal pup population survey.

Permanent Secretary Mbako's claim that the pup population has "increased 73% over 1993" to 379 939 pups in 2006, is pure fabrication, and is in fact some 200 000 pups more than that stated by the Minister in July.

Inflating and falsifying the seal pup population by over 100% to conceal the mismanagement, and lay claim to over-population as the reason for the mass starvation - is a complete travesty, and should not go un-punished. These statements reflect a direct threat to the future survival and conservation of this protected species.

As the seal population has never recovered from the 1994 mass die-off from starvation, and has endured at least seven since 1988. Namibia should immediately announce an end to its sealing policy, as South Africa did in 1990.

Specialist scientist Dr Herman Oosthuizen of Marine Mammals at the department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in South Africa, recently confirmed the following, "My opinion is that they are not over-populated".

Namibia's constitution only allows for the "sustainable utilisation (consumptively or non-consumptively) of a living natural resource", a declining seal population in Namibia since 1994 confirms Namibia's seal culling policy is unlawful.

Namibia must announce an end to its seal cull policy.

Seal Alert-SA, therefore appeals to the South African government to immediately intervene and requests the CITES Secretariat, of which this endangered species is protected under Appendix II, to announce harsh trade restrictions under the convention. It further requests international anti-seal hunt organizations to immediately send in seal rescue teams to help save some of the dying seals, and prevent further untold incidents of widespread mass cruelty.

For the Seals

Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA

27-21-790 8774
 

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