Jun 09

Open Letter to SA MP RE her Calls to Reintroduce Seal Slaughter

By the early 1900’s, Cape fur seals in Southern Africa had been hunted to the brink of extinction and government was forced to intervene.  The slaughter continued in South Africa under regulations of the government until 1990.  Millions of seals were brutally slaughtered for their fur, oils and genitals.  Namibia is now the only country in the southern hemisphere involved in a barbaric commercial hunt.

Last week South African MP Meriam Phaliso made irresponsible and misinformed comments calling for the reintroduction of a seal “harvest”.  You can read more on that story HERE.

It is evident Miss Phaliso is quite clueless and has not realised that South African legislation BANS the hunting, harassment and killing of Cape fur seals, a protected species.

We have responded via an open letter that has been sent to various leading media houses.  If YOU would like to add your voice of condemnation to the global outcry, you can email Miss Phaliso on mphaliso@parliament.gov.za

Open letter to Meriam Phaliso re calls for re-introduction of SA seal “harvest.”

Dear Miss Phaliso,

Allow us this opportunity to express our strongest condemnation regarding the inane, irresponsible and misinformed comments you made regarding a seal “harvest” as were published by various media houses recently.  Your lack of understanding into the most basic fundamentals regarding Cape fur seals and their prey is most alarming and leads us to question how you managed to become an MP in the first place.

Quoting (Seals are) “the biggest poachers of some of the fish and nobody is arresting them… Seals are a job-creating mechanism that can put food on the tables in some areas”.

This must be one of the most ridiculous comments ever spewed.  Are we going to start arresting fruit flies for destroying crops in Elgin?  Are we going to arrest mosquitoes for stealing our blood?  Why not begin by arresting the poachers who are killing our rhino?  That would be a good place to start, don’t you think?

Seals are not poaching fish.  They are eating their natural diet on which they have lived for 4 million years.  If there is any competition between seals and commercial fisheries, it is directly due to your department’s own gross mismanagement of the species.  The “harvest” is what created the problem.

Using statistics provided by your own department we will see that from 1976 to 1990 the colony at Kleinzee grew by 161% despite massive culling taking place.  South Africa stopped culling in 1990 due to the barbaric cruelty involved.  From 1990 to 2006, the colony at Kleinzee only grew by 5%.  Scientists were surprised to discover that fisheries were NOT negatively impacted.  Rather, the industry saw positive growth due to a healthier ecosystem.

A study on the diet of Cape fur seals off Plettenburg Bay shows seals do not affect commercial fisheries at all.  Furthermore, several scientific studies have shown that competition between Cape fur seals and commercial fisheries is negligible considering the majority of the seals’ diet is made up from crustaceans, cephalopods and non targeted fish species – fish that gets thrown away and discarded.

In terms of job creation, let us look at Namibia.  81 people are SEASONALLY employed for only four months of the year.  There is no room for skills development.  The workers earn the minimum wage and live in makeshift shacks.  The dividends are not shared equally and the slaughter is only benefiting an economic elite.  The entire country is suffering due to a globally supported consumer boycott of sport, produce and tourism because of the seal slaughter.  This boycott is endorsed by several leading South African personalities, including Bokang Montjane (Miss SA 2010); Cito (Wonderboom); and Christina Storm (Actress and model). You can view their statements on You-Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-tZBQ8eXrM.

A-list celebrities such as Sir Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson and Leona Lewis have all condemned the seal hunt.

If we look at Canada, the country is suffering from a globally supported boycott of seafood and tourism.  Millions in revenue is being lost.  People are losing their jobs and the price of seal pelts has plummeted from $125 to $18.  The sealing industry is constantly receiving bailouts from the federal government, who is taxing an unwilling tax payer.  There is no market for the product.  The USA, Mexico, the 27 nations of the EU, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Taiwan have all banned the import of seal products due to the gross levels of cruelty involved.  Attempts to establish a new market through China backfired with its citizens labeling the move as racist.  They refuse to be a dumping ground for Canada’s trash.

While we applaud your desire to create opportunities for employment, you really need to consider the bigger picture.  Are we going to suffer from an international consumer boycott of our wine industry due to a seal hunt?  Are you leading us as an environmentally progressive nation, or are you trying to drag us back into a state where the rest of the world considers us to be a bunch of primitive, superstitious 3rd world savages who believe munching on seal penis will make you sexually aroused?

If you wish to create employment, why not look to tourism?  Ticket sales to see the seal colony at Duiker Island off Hout Bay generate roughly R10 million each year.  Informal traders at Hout Bay harbour contribute further as do the restaurants, etc.  The most money EVER generated from Namibia’s seal massacre has been R4,5 million.  The value of this is lessened as the government has to spend vast amounts on security in order to prevent journalists filming the cruelty.

An independent report by an Australian firm entitled “The economics of seal hunting and seal watching in Namibia” shows ecotourism can yield THREE HUNDRED % more revenue than the slaughter.  It will create a wealth of job opportunities all year round in which there is scope for skills development and training.  It will also support subsidiary micro industries.  Not only is ecotourism far more in line with international sentiment, it would also open up much of the area previously not on the travel industry’s itinerary.  Trips to decommissioned diamond mines could enhance the tourist experience of visiting the largest Cape fur seal rookery on earth.

The Cape fur seal is a threatened species and is listed on Appendix II of CITES.  It has lost more than 95% of preferred habitat.  It has suffered from at least 6 major mass die offs in the last 15 years.  It is under severe threat from global warming and is the only species of seal to breed on the African continent.  Let us make it a symbol of hope, protect it and market it as the marine addition to this country’s “Big 5”.

Kind regards.

  • SA minister calls for reintroduction of #sealhunt

Cape Fur Seal, South African Fur Seal, Brown Fur Seal

Make the Cape Fur Seal a symbol of hope.