5 September 2011

Namibia: Ombudsman to Host Seal Meeting

A MEETING on the legalities of Namibia's annual seal harvesting, exploitation of living natural resources, and methods of killing seals is planned after the international furore that erupted over the country's seal culling.

Ombudsman John Walters said the meeting this month would be a good platform to obtain viewpoints that will assist his office in any further investigation.

Walters said the investigation would be based on a strategy of 'let the facts speak for themselves'.

He invited interested parties to submit written statements as well as supporting documents.

Seal Alert South Africa and Walters had a public fall-out after the organisation alleged that the Ombudsman's office had withdrawn from its investigation into Namibia's seal culling.

Francois Hugo of Seal Alert said Namibia's commercial seal culling is unlawful, and that any attempt to commercially reduce the seal population is illegal, arguing that Namibia's Constitution only permits the sustainable utilisation of seals consumptively or non-consumptively.

Seal Alert and European parliamentarian David Martin said there was sufficient grounds to get a court interdict to stop the seal harvesting pending an investigation.

Walters said he could not approach the High Court to get an urgent interdict because he did not have all the facts, and added that he was not bound by Seal Alert's legal opinion on the seal harvesting business.

A previous stakeholders' meeting with Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernhard Esau failed to take place in June, days before the seal harvesting season started in July.

Hugo wanted Walters to release his findings or halt the seal harvest pending an investigation, or chair a resolution between Seal Alert and Minister Esau.

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