Anti-seal harvesting groups are once again up in arms as Namibia's hugely controversial culling season draws to an end. Prominent campaigner Seals of Namibia has ratcheted up the criticism of what it labels as the "mindless" slaughter of innocent species for paltry profit.
The Namibian government seasonally culls seals which it blames for depleting stocks of its fish, a major contributor to Gross Domestic Product. But campaigners term the cull--where bulls are shot and seal pups clobbered to death--as inhumane.
Seals of Namibia's campaign manager Pat Dickens in a media statement questioned if the purpose of the “mindless slaughter” is to generate employment, as the number of workers has decreased from 160 to 81, while the cull quota has been increased from 30,000 seals to 86,000 seals.
Mr Dickens also questioned the rationale of the seasonal workers that live in tin and cardboard shacks near Cape Cross where the harvesting takes place annually.
Mr Dickens argues that the Namibian seal slaughter brings in a paltry $62,500 (N$500,000) to $125,000 (N$1million) for the government each year. This is a drop in the ocean when compared to the revenue that could be generated in terms of eco-tourism, he said.
Various anti-culling organisations, including Seals of Namibia, have continuously called for an economic boycott of some of Namibia’s biggest companies in an effort to put pressure on the central government to stop the annual culling.
Such plans have however faltered due to a lack of support from business communities and the general public.
The absence of official data on the seal population in the country, and their relationship with the diminishing fish stocks, has led the anti-seal groups to question the government’s claim that the seals are harvested in a responsible and sustainable manner. The last available data on the species dates back to 2007.
Data issued by the Fisheries ministry revealed that seals eat about 900,000 tonnes of fish a year, more than a third of the fishing industry’s catch, while the Cape Fur seal numbers remain healthy.
Seal culling is practiced in Namibia, Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia. The current culling season ends in August.