Is seal meat being mislabeled in Namibia? After receiving a tip off, we believe this may be so. We have been told everything from the seal hunt is utilised. We know the genitals are exported. We know the oil and skins are exported. We know very little revenue is generated from these, yet the government is adamant they will continue slaughtering seals despite massive international criticism. Why?
There is very little information as to what happens to the meat. Why the secrecy? What is the Namibian government so afraid of? What are they hiding?
Some accounts mention the seal meat is ground up and made into pets mince or added to cattle feed. In South Africa, it is illegal to add meat derivatives to cattle feed. If it is added to pets mince, surely the public has a right to be informed which products these are? If you feed your cat tinned fish, surely you want to be sure she is eating tinned fish. Or do you want her eating tinned seal?
If the meat is distributed to feed the poor, we have the following situation: 81% of Cape fur seals are infected with cestodes and nematodes (round worm, tape worm and hook worm). Seals are “harvested” under unhygenic conditions, where they urinate and defecate out of fear for their lives. The dead are left in piles under the baking sun with flies buzzing all around, and are then carted on the back of unrefrigerated open air vehicles to processing locations. Here they are handled by dirty workers who are not wearing protective gear. Severe worm infestations can lead to Ascariasis which can result in septacemia and death. Seal meat is also contaminated with heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium and lead. Consumption of this meat can lead to Minimata Disease.
Our question then begs the following: Is the Namibian government knowingly and willfully poisoning their own people?
According to the Animal Health Act of 2011, a heath certificate is required for exportation of animals, animal products and restricted material. Paragraph 13 (1) of the Act states ‘a person may not export any animal, animal product or restricted material from Namibia except if the person has obtained a health certificate from the Chief Veterinary Officer’. The Seals of Nam hereby challenge any body to produce health certificates clearing every seal slaughtered to be free from disease or parasites.
If the meat is being exported (and according to the CITES trade database it is), then the 1991 amendment to the Animal Protection Act of 1962, which deals with the export of meat or meat products to prescribed countries, is being violated. The amendment states “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any law contained, no meat or meat product derived from a prescribed animal shall be exported to any prescribed country, unless such an animal was slaughtered at a prescribed abattoir”. Cape Cross is a seal reserve. There is no mention of it being a prescribed abattoir.
We understand Advocate Walters has ruled that a seal is not an animal and thus the Animal Protection Act does not apply; yet multiple scientific dictionary definitions contradict his opinion. Seals are mammals, of the order Carnivora. They are warm blooded and give birth to live young. They are animals. They are not insects, reptiles, invertebrates, birds or electric trains.
We openly and publicly challenge the Meat Board of Namibia to give us their assurances and categorically state that no seal meat is being used for human consumption. If it is, we demand to know why meat that is being “harvested” under unhygenic conditions is being fed to the public and is being exported. We want labeling on all products to be clear as to stating “contains seal meat”. Should the Meat Board deny that seal meat is being used, we would like to see an inquiry, such as South Africa has undertaken. We believe Biltong would be high on the list, as would burger patties.