Namibia will not submit to EU ban on seal harvest: Esau

19 Apr 2015 13:50pm
WALVIS B AY, 19 APR (NAMPA) – Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau says Namibia will not submit to the European Union’s (EU) ban on seal products.
In 2009, the EU prohibited the importation and marketing of seal products in the European community market.
Delivering his 2015 annual fishing industry address at Walvis Bay on Friday, Esau said: “Our harvest is sustainable and we will not submit to such discriminatory trade practices. Just like other countries, we will take the struggle forward to ensure that our seal products have access to world markets”.
He added that the aim is to make sure seal products have access to not only the European market but also continents such as Asia, the Americas and the Pacific.
The ban was fuelled by international animal welfare organisations condemning what they call ‘inhumane’ methods used to harvest the animals. Such organisations allege that in some countries, seals are killed by being hit on the head with spiked wooden clubs.
The seal products ban also affected Canada, Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Esau said the World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism ruled in 2014 that the EU ban was discriminatory and against the WTO rules.
“This ruling is very significant to Namibia, which as a third party joined by other affected countries in challenging the ban,” said the minister.
Namibia harvests seals to reduce their population as they feed on fish species and challenge the availability of Namibian fish for export and local consumption.
Fishing provides employment to many Namibians and is one of the fastest growing contributors to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The minister noted that a survey on seals conducted in 2014 shows a healthy population and predicts that it will continue to increase.
He further said the ministry approved the three-year rolling total allowance catch (TAC) of 80 000 pups and 6 000 bulls.
Meanwhile, Gys Cilliers, manager of a seal-processing factory in Henties Bay, told Nampa that Cape Fur Seal meat will be made available to Namibian shops this year for human consumption. Seal meat is particularly consumed in Canada and the Arctic region as a reliable and healthy source of low fat protein. It is generally compared to beef.