Namibia seal hunt to go on despite protests
JOHANNESBURG - Namibia’s annual commercial seal hunt will go on despite objections by animal welfare groups, a government official said yesterday.
Frans Tsheehama of the Namibian fisheries and marine resources ministry said the season started July 1 and will run until Nov. 15.
Hunters are expected to club more than 90,000 seals, including 85,000 pups.
Although the hunt was set to begin last week, there was confusion over whether the killings had begun after numerous news reports that a South African-based animal rights activist was in negotiations to halt them.
Namibia is one of only a few remaining countries with a commercial seal harvest.
The government argues that the seal population needs to be controlled to protect fish stocks. But animal rights activists say the practice is inhumane and outdated.
Seals are hunted for skins, fur, and meat, and seal genitals are sold as traditional medicines and aphrodisiacs in Asia.
Francois Hugo of Seal Alert South Africa said last week that he had made a bid to buy out the company that purchases the Namibian seal pelts, effectively halting the hunt.
Hugo said that clubbing an animal to death is cruel and in defiance of international animal protection laws.
He also challenged the Namibian government’s assertion that the hunt maintained healthy seal populations, saying that in the past whole colonies had been devastated.