The Namibian (Windhoek)

22 September 2011

Namibia: Seal Census to Be Done

THE Namibian Government will do a seal census at the end of this year to determine whether the high annual culling quota is sustainable.

Ombudsman John Walters yesterday said this was one of the announcements at the one-day international conference which he organised.

Namibia remains committed to the sustainable use of all its natural resources, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau, said at the conference. Speaking at the international conference about Namibia's annual seal culling, Esau said: "Incomplete information about one of Namibia's wildlife management programmes has caused extensive consternation and discord in many areas".

He urged "those with good will who want to find a solution, to listen to our points and decide".

The meeting was organised by Walters.

Esau added that "Namibia understands the concerns raised on this issue. The primary objective of seal harvesting in Namibia is to manage the seal population in relation to the carrying capacity of the entire ecosystem, in balance with the need for sustainable usage of our fish stocks in that area of our natural resource management."

During his address on Tuesday morning, Walters emphasised that the recommendations of his office "are not binding; he or she (the ombudsperson) does not command. He or she persuades and is always wary of how to protect the reasonable interests of the inhabitants and, at the same time, to allow the administration to do its work efficiently as far as humanly possible."

Namibia has come under fire over the past years for the manner in which the seals are clubbed to death during the harvesting.

Other participants at the closed one-day conference were, amongst others, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Namibian SPCA, the South African Seal Saving Initiative, Seal Alert SA, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

Yesterday, Walters explained that the conference was held in camera because it was the start of his investigation into the alleged cruel way the seals are killed. "It wasn't a public hearing."

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