By Petronella Sibeene
A European report on Animal Welfare Aspects of Seal Hunting has found unacceptable cruelty in the Namibian seal culling system.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)’s submission to the European Commission reveals that methods used in seal hunting in the country are ruthless and have rendered these animals in a very poor welfare.
Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Jason Bell-Leask said: “The extraordinary cruelty of the Namibian seal hunt has been recognised in this scientific report – the Namibian Government must end this abomination immediately.”
The director accused Namibia of practising “a hunt of shame conducted in secret without independent observers”.
The report concludes that seals should be recognised as sentiment marine mammals that can experience pain distress, fear and other forms of suffering. The report recommends that seals be protected from painful killing and skinning practices.
The Namibian seal hunt takes place annually near Cape Cross. In 2006 more than 77 000 seal pups were clubbed to death while 5 300 adult bulls were shot.
Last year, the seal culling sector had a quota of 86 000 of these fish-eating aquatic mammals. The quota of 86 000 approved by Cabinet consisted of 80 000 pups and 6 000 bulls.
Seal culling in Namibia has received criticism from animal rights bodies from different parts of the world.
Seal Alert SA, an animal rights body last year condemned the seal culling system in Namibia calling it the cruelest seal hunt in the world.
Government says harvesting was meant to preserve the ecosystem and economically benefit society but animal rights bodies have said Government could find a sustainable way that is human to both people and seals.
Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Dr Abraham Iyambo has always said should any of the animal rights body propose a better option of culling, his ministry was willing to modify the current clubbing system.
In 2007 Seal Alert SA campaigned against culling activities at the country’s coastal areas. The animal rights body circulated messages outside Namibia calling for a ban on Namibian seal products.
Minister Iyambo described the orchestrated international campaign on Namibia as “highly ridiculous and complete economic sabotage”.
Countries such as the United States of America, Mexico, Croatia, Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and South Africa have banned the import of Cape fur seal products.