On 18 December 2013, Namibia’s Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources sent out a press release regarding “Observed Cape Fur Seal Mortalities along the Namibian Coast.” Apparently the Ministry has received numerous reports from concerned members of the public regarding dead Cape seals washed ashore as well as living seals that appear to be lost and starving along the coast.
In a carefully prepared statement, written by an adept spin doctor, the ministry attempts to allay public fears by explaining the unusual deaths away as a natural phenomenon. They are quick to claim the increased mortality rate coincides with the peak birthing period and pups that are weaning do not always adapt to being without teat. .
Quoting: “At the breeding colonies, new-born pups usually die from being abandoned by their mothers or from injuries incurred during bull fights. Furthermore, pups that are born on islands are at a high risk of drowning during high tides. Thus, it is normal to encounter dead and lost seal pups along the coastline during this time of the year. Besides natural causes of death, anthropogenic induced mortality, especially littering from fishing gear, especially nylon material, results in snares that entangle body parts (e.g. neck). As the entangled animal grows, the snare cuts through the flesh suffocating the animal leading to death (when neck entangled). Flipper entanglement disables the seal causing it to drown,”
The ministry acknowledges and shares the concerns of the public. However, this is a natural phenomenon and very little can be done as it is extremely difficult to rear seal pups outside of their natural environment.” End Quote.
The statement continues for several paragraphs but most of it amounts to background info on the species itself and contains nothing of relevance.
One needs to read between the lines when faced with propaganda of this nature. Rather than focusing on what is being said, take note of the diversion and concentrate on what is NOT mentioned.
Cape Fur seals have suffered from several mass die offs in Namibia in the last 30 years. The most recent was in 2006 where an estimated 300 thousand seals died from starvation. This is recorded as the largest mass die off of any marine mammal in history. It was as a direct result of over-fishing of the BCLME and a depleted fisheries resource.
Bernard Esau, (Namibia’s Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources) regularly ignores advice from his own scientists and allocates fishing quotas far in excess of those recommended. Similarly, without any scientific population data prior to 2013, Esau continues to set the TAC quota for seals higher and higher. For example, when Namibia gained independence, the quota stood at 9 000. It was increased to 30 000 then 80 000 then 91 000 before dropping back down to 86 000.
As for the rest of the statement, we spit on these lies.
“At the breeding colonies, new-born pups usually die from being abandoned by their mothers or from injuries incurred during bull fights.”
Absolute nonsense! New born pups are NOT abandoned by their mothers. Cape Fur seals will haul out and give birth. The mother will nurse her young for 3-5 days before she needs to hunt and feed herself. She MAY be gone for up to a week, but usually returns within 2-3 days where she will nurse and suckle again for 3-5 days. This alternating cycle of nursing and hunting continues for the next 11 months. The pup is never abandoned unless there are regular disturbances at the colony to such an extent that the mother then flees for her life. Disturbances such as witnessing other seals being violently attacked and slaughtered. Animals don’t simply abandon their young. Fact.
As for “injuries incurred during bull fights” Charlie Matengu (the author of this drivel) must think we are extremely naive. Cape fur seals are gregarious in nature. Their social interactions are governed according to a strict hierarchical structure which is defined as alpha breeding bulls, bulls, breeding females, females, juveniles and pups. Bulls fight over territory and the right to mate. Since pups pose no threat to them, they couldn’t be bothered with the little runts and injuries that occur are purely in Matengu’s wild imagination.
“Furthermore, pups that are born on islands are at a high risk of drowning during high tides”
Rubbish. The large offshore islands have plenty of shelter high above sea level. Pups raised on these islands would stand a fantastic chance of survival. Not only would they escape the high tides, but they would also be free from mainland predators such as jackals and brown hyena. One in every four pups born on the mainland falls victim to a predatory attack. Instead of allowing the seals to live and breed on these islands as they have done for the last 5 million years, the government has forced the seals to live on unsuitable wash-rocks where massive overcrowding and high seas makes life impossible.
it is normal to encounter dead and lost seal pups along the coastline during this time of the year.
Would those be seals that have escaped the clubbers with mortal wounds and died after fleeing? Lost because they got smacked a bit too hard on the head? Doesn’t the seal slaughter run from June to mid November? Yes, then it would be normal.
The ministry acknowledges and shares the concerns of the public.
Excuse us while we barf. That should read as follows:
“The ministry couldn’t care less what the public thinks because the ministry ignores science, makes up its own rules, violates the Treasury Act and bludgeons 80 000 nursing pups to death to make a batch of useless sex potions.”