Kinship Circle: Namibia – Legal Action Against Seal Slaughter?

July 14th, 2007 3:21 pm by Kelly Garbato

UPDATE, 8/8/07:

I received the following correspondence from IFAW and have edited the original email appropriately (i.e., to exclude contact info for Mr. Bell and Ms. Pretorius).

IFAW remains opposed to the commercial culling of Southern African fur seals in Namibia due to the unacceptable levels of pain and suffering associated with this hunt, and conservation concerns about its biological sustainability.

Although IFAW is not directly campaigning on this issue, our campaign efforts in Europe may impact this hunt. IFAW is engaged in campaigns throughout Europe to establish national bans on trade in seal products, including those derived from Namibian fur seals. In addition, we are contributing to on-going efforts to ban trade in seal products throughout the entire European Union and are using a recently commissioned report to inform our efforts in this regard.

As the priorities for IFAW’s seal work are ending Canada’s commercial seal hunt, the campaign on which the organization was founded, and the implementation of European trade bans, we will not be joining Seal Alert in setting up a legal trust fund. We urge all like-minded parties to work constructively to bring pressure to bear on the Namibian authorities to end this cruel and unsustainable hunt.


———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle
Date: Jul 13, 2007 1:37 AM
Subject: Namibia: Legal Action Against Seal Slaughter?

Please cross-post


Many of you were deeply moved by images of nursing seal pups slaughtered along Namibia’s coast and have sent comments in response to Kinship Circle’s alert, 7/11/07: Namibia’s Shame – Massacre Of Nursing Seal Pups & Bulls.

BELOW is a message from Nikki Botha, a spokesperson for Seal Alert South Africa — the group led by Francois Hugo, who has fought valiantly to end the massacre. Kinship Circle is circulating this message on behalf of Seal Alert South Africa, with the hope individuals and/or organizations will step forward as DONORS for LEGAL ACTION against Namibian authorities.

Please read the proposal below for legal recourse against the seal killers.

If you are able to contribute to this legal fund, contact:
Mr. Jason Bell or Christine Pretorius of IFAW in South Africa
[Contact info removed 8/8/07]

Thank you,
Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle

—— Forwarded Message
From: – nikkibotha [at]
Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2007
To: kinshipcircle [at]
Crimes Against Nature: Namibia

As you all know Francois Hugo (Seal Alert) has been deeply involved in campaigning to end the Namibian Seal hunt. The intention of the anti-culling campaign has always been to get Namibian Authorities to stop all culling/hunting/harvesting activities; and as of yet we have not used this campaign as a fundraising tool. We strongly believe that since the authorities have failed to respond to any reason, one of our strongest recourses now would be to explore our legal avenues…

The Namibia government knows they are on weak ground regarding the baby seal culling issue. They also think we (supporters, NGOs, etc) are not serious and are just seeking publicity for our funding coffers. They have this perception because if we were serious about ending it, we would have gone go to court to seek an immediate interdict to halt the hunt. No such attempt has ever been tried, and this sends a certain message to the authorities.

After speaking to an attorney yesterday, now know that we are in a precarious legal position. The rolling three-year quota was a smart move on Namibia’s part as it forces us to act in an exceptionally short period of time or lose the ability for a court application for next three years. The first step we need to take in order to get Namibia to stop the hunt, is obtaining an interdict. The first question a court will ask is “Why did you not bring the application when the hunt started?”

So the longer we take, the weaker our legal argument and chance of success. Namibia states its sealing policy is conducted under the constitution in a sustainable scientific manner. They state pup population (December 2005) is 205 500 of which they awarded an 80 000 a year, rolling for three years, pup culling quota. Scientifically speaking, 39% of the pups born are within the scientific bounds of sustainability that states 29% – 45% as sustainable.

The reality of the situation is that according to Namibia, the pup population count for 2005 (December) was a total of 205 000. 2006 saw a recorded mass die-off. In December 2006, despite promises from the Namibian government, population figures were not released (and to date these figures are unknown). Two South African Scientists and one Namibian Fisheries scientist stated in their research findings that there is a 62% pup mortality rate prior to the start of sealing season that started on the 1st of July. If you subtract 62% off the 205 000 pup population figures (before the mass die-off occurred), you will find it leaves you with an amount of 78 090 pups that will be alive for sealing season. The quota set for the cull is 80 000.

The conclusion is that this cull is clearly NOT sustainable and in violation of their own policies of sustainable use.

What counts in our favour as well is that Namibia has stated the sealing applies only to 80% of the population on the mainland. Again, 205 500 less 20% (island seal population) = 164 400 pups found on the mainland. Subtract the 62% natural mortality rate and it will leave you with a total of 62 472 pups. The quota = 80 000.

Our case for the seals is solid. CITES exports records indicate that since 1990, sealers could only fill on average 66% of the “sustainable” pup quota. This proves the cull is not sustainable for the seals or the sealers. What counts in our favour as well is the confirmation last year by the Ministry that the seal population in 2006 is still some 27% below the population level in 1993. The Ministry and scientist reports confirmed a mass die-off equal to the 1994 die-off (where Namibian scientists found 95% pup mortality and half the adults) in 2000 and 2006.

Taking all this into consideration, we decided that we need to appoint an attorney, apply for an interdict and go to court. But in order to do this, we need a legal fund.

Should you be interested in being part of this process by contributing to this legal fund, please contact:
Mr. Jason Bell or Christine Pretorius of IFAW in South Africa
[Contact info removed 8/8/07]

Funders should please stipulate that as part of the conditions for the funding, the sole legal decision maker should be Francois Hugo of Seal Alert South Africa.

The application for this interdict is a matter of urgency – the longer we wait to do so, the weaker our case becomes.

I thank you deeply and passionately for your time and consideration,
Miss Nikki Botha, nikkibotha [at]
Seal Alert South Africa – Spokesperson

Kinship Circle - 2007-07-13 - Namibia Legal Action Against Seal Slaughter 01

Kinship Circle - 2007-07-13 - Namibia Legal Action Against Seal Slaughter 02

A seal cow mourns the loss of her clubbed and knifed baby seal pup

Kinship Circle - 2007-07-13 - Namibia Legal Action Against Seal Slaughter 03

For the Seals – Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA

Kinship Circle will be off-line from:
Friday, July 13 – Monday, July 30
And cannot respond to email during these dates.


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