Condemnation of Namibia’s Commercial Seal Hunt

Thursday, July 15, 2010
Cape Town, South Africa
As Namibia begins a four month orgy of clubbing to death 80,000 seal pups, the International Fund for Animal Welfare has slated the annual killing spree as cruel, wasteful and out of step with worldwide sentiment that believes commercial sealing should end.

“Namibia cannot provide a reasonable scientific justification for its annual seal hunt,” said Jason Bell-Leask, Director IFAW Southern Africa (IFAW – www.ifaw.org).

“It is not even commercially viable as the price of pelts has dropped year by year and more and more countries are banning the sale of seal products – most significantly the European Union which, in May 2009, voted overwhelmingly to forbid the sale of seal products,” he said. That ban goes into effect next month.

A total of 30 countries now refuse to allow the sale of seal products. In March 2009, Russia announced a ban on the hunting of seals less than one year of age, effectively ending its commercial hunt for harp seal pups in the White Sea.

“This makes Namibia, Norway and Canada – which this year only managed to kill 72,000 of its Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 330,000 harp seals – rogue countries entirely out of step with international sentiment to halt commercial sealing,” said Bell-Leask.

The Namibian seal hunt is the world’s second largest commercial seal hunt and the only one in the southern hemisphere – South Africa suspended its seal hunt in 1990.

The hunt began on 8th July and runs until 15th November. This year’s TAC is 80,000 pups and 6,000 bulls. The pups are largely killed for their pelts, while the genitalia of the bulls are sold for use as an aphrodisiac in the Far East.

Seal pups are killed by being clubbed on the head, while the bulls are shot.

“Namibia’s commercial seal hunt is inherently inhumane and should be ended,” concluded Dr David Lavigne, IFAW’s science advisor. Lavigne is the co-author of a paper published earlier this year in the South African Journal of Science that assessed the hunting practices in Namibia’ commercial seal hunt.

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