WINDHOEK, 22 SEP (NAMPA) -
Earthrace Conservation on Tuesday handed over a petition with close to 200 000 signatures against seal hunting in Namibia to the National Assembly.
The petition, which contains mainly online signatures, was received by the Secretary of the National Assembly, Jake Jacobs.
"Seal clubbing does not belong in a modern economy and it is a disgrace that it is still done in most countries in the world," said environmental activist, Pete Bethune, when he handed over the petition.
The Earthrace Conservation organisation aims to identify marine conservation issues, and intervene where and when necessary to protect and defend threatened marine ecosystems world-wide.
The petition claims that the Fisheries Ministry failed to ensure that the aerial survey of seal populations was carried out, and that Namibia has not fulfilled its obligations as required by its membership of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). CITES is an international treaty adopted to prevent species from becoming endangered or extinct because of international trade.
The aerial survey is done every third year. The last aerial survey was conducted in December 2011; and the next one was expected to be carried out in December 2014.
The petition stipulates that the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernard Esau failed to act on any of the recommendations put forward in a final report by the Namibian Ombudsman. Bethune, however, said he disagreed with the Ombudsman's declaration that seals are not classified as animals.
The petition demands that Government increase protection of Cape fur seals, including issues of humane treatment according to its own animal rights legislation. The petition also urges the government to liaise with the two representative organisations within CITES, namely the National Botanical Research Institute, and the National Museum of Namibia, in order to investigate claims that the export of seal products from seal species contravene the protection laws required by CITES.
It further states that an immediate moratorium on the seal hunt be brought into force until such time when the investigation is completed. Fisheries Permanent Secretary, Moses Maurihungirire informed Nampa upon enquiry that he was not aware of the petition, but responded to some of the allegations.
He said the aerial survey of seal populations; Namibia's fulfilment towards its obligations as a member of CITES; and alleged failure to act on recommendations made by the Ombudsman were all met by the Fisheries Ministry, although it may not be to the satisfaction of the environmental activists. (