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Govt misleading public on seals- Group

Namibia had the most seal killings than any other country last year, said activist group Seal Alert in a presentation in the capital on Wednesday.
Spaking at the presentation, spokesperson Pat Dickens said that government had given the public wrong figures about the number of seals that are in existence. The aim of the presentation was to show that seals and fishing can co-exist,.
Two years ago, Seal Alert set up a meeting with Ombudsman John Walters to show to him that seals and fish can co-exist, that there was no need for seals to be culled because they do not disturb the fishing industry, and that the killing of seals disrupts the eco-system.
The group alleges that government still continues to allow this practice without conducting proper studies. “Seals that are as young as 10 months old are clubbed to death, they are sometimes hit several times to the head instead of the stipulated one time, the people that do the clubbing are brutal and sometimes stab the seals before they are clubbed making them writhe in pain before they die” said Dickens.
He said that there was no real evidence of growth in the seal colonies, adding that government was misleading its people.
Dickens said fuelling the seal culling practice was Turkish born businessman, Hatem Yavuz Yavuz who sells the pelts to countries such as Canada and Russia.
Namibia’s annual quota for culling is 91 000 seals, which is 85 000 pups and 6 000 bulls. The culling season lasts from July to November.
The Namibian economy is said to get N$8 million in revenue from the viewing of the seal colonies. However, Dickens argues that by the time tourists come to view the colonies, the clubbing would have taken place already, and that when they ask about the blood on the sand they are told that it is because of jackal attacks.
The sealers live in makeshift cardboard shacks as their work is only seasonal, they are not given protective gear for the culling process and the warehouses where the skins of the seals are taken off is a breeding ground for bacteria and diseases.
Dickens further went to say that all culling practices in the country must be stopped as the seals do not disturb the fishing industry. He challenged the government to allow his group to do an independent survey on the seals.

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