And while we’re talking about fishing…

(Because we were talking about fishing here.)

How’s this for a headline?

“Seal Harvest Would Create Jobs”

Yep, that’s the plan of ANC MP Meriam Phaliso:

The government should consider allowing the harvesting of Cape fur seals as a means of job creation to compensate for several fisheries that have collapsed through overfishing, says ANC MP Meriam Phaliso.

During a briefing to the National Assembly’s portfolio committee by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, about renewed rights allocations in eight fisheries, Phaliso said the only point of concern was to find a humane way of killing the seals.

Cue inevitable outcry from environmentalists, greenies and the armchairs of slacktivists everywhere. But, in actual fact, it’s not a new idea:

In 1990… a five-year concession allowing a Taiwanese businessman to kill seal pups was cancelled at the last moment by then environment minister Gert Kotze following a huge outcry.
The concession would have allowed up to 100 000 pups and a number of bulls to be killed and processed for pet food, leather and aphrodisiacs in a Port Nolloth factory that had already been built.

Wow. You can get a lot out of a seal, hey? Almost as good as a whale or a rhino. It all sounds like a splendid plan. If only they weren’t so lovely and fluffy and… awww… just look at his whiskers!

Hang on… I got sidetracked by his cuteness. Damn it.
Right, here’s Phaliso’s reasoning for the sickening bloody massacre of the sweet fluffy seal pups with their puppy dog eyes:

Seals are “the biggest poachers of some of the fish and nobody is arresting them… seals are a job-creating mechanism that can put food on the tables in some areas”.

Well, nobody is really arresting human poachers either, are they? But to be honest, Meriam, though your cull idea is a bit on the harsh side when compared with simply “arresting” the seals, it might be a more pleasurable end than being locked up in Pollsmoor overnight.

Meanwhile, just up the road in Elgin (a thankfully seal free inland town), fruit flies were ruining the local apple crop. This was costing food, jobs and livelihoods. In fact, many people in those fruit growing areas called the fruit flies “the biggest poachers of some of the apples”, yet remarked that “nobody is arresting them”.
At first, I put this down to the fact that it’s really difficult to get handcuffs small enough, but then I realised that there was no need to arrest the fruit flies, because we humans are already massacring them with insecticides and genetic modification.

Innocent lives were lost. And yet where was the outcry? Where?

Could it possibly be that because fruit flies don’t bask on rocks around False Bay looking lovable, and instead merely go about eating their natural diet and destroying human livelihoods – i.e. just like the seals apart from the rock bit?

Yeah. It’s damn hard to love a fruit fly, isn’t it? And you need loads to make any decent volume of pet food.

For the record, and belatedly because you’re already on your green high horse, I’m not necessarily suggesting that the seal harvest idea is a good idea. It came from a member of parliament and those two things rarely go together. That said, it would provide jobs, money, and increase local fish stocks. Thus, I am suggesting that a bit more thought than just, “Seals?! OMG! No!” be put into your response to Ms Phaliso’s scheme.

I’m also willing to bet that the rate of objection will be far higher among those who can easily put a meal on the family table for their kids each evening. That’s because there are plenty of people out there who can’t afford to do that and would surely jump at the chance to put a seal on the family table for their kids each evening.

  • Kevin Sweeney

    So, your theory, or the politician’s, is that the fishermen have wiped out their entire livelihood resource, so let’s give them a new one, for which there is no market, and they will be more careful this time. Seems legit…

  • Kevin Sweeney > I think you’ll find that the fishermen were working well within the bounds of sustainability. It’s the damn seals that are destroying the fish stocks. Yes, they are the biggest poachers of some of the fish. Like I said, I’m not necessarily supporting the seal harvest plan, but two birds, ne?

  • Seals do not impact on commercial fisheries and there are several scientific studies to confirm this. Stop believing BS propaganda and use a bit of logic now. Namibia has 23 seal colonies. The largest by far is at Cape Cross. It stretches out roughly 2kms in length and 500m in width. If you lined up EVERY seal colony in Namibia, this “super colony” would stretch out over 16kms. Namibia has 1 500km of coastline. Her exclusive economic zone (EEC) is 200 nautical miles wide. Do you HONESTLY believe 16kms of seals is destroying 1 500 kms offish stocks when seals have lived in harmony with the environment for 4 million years?

    Cape Fur seals are a threatened species and are listed on Appendix II of CITES. They have lost more than 90% of their preferred habitat. Robben Island named after Dutch word for seals (Rob)… No seals on it today. Dyer Island? No seals. Possession Island? No seals. etc etc

    If we look at stats provided by the SA govt we will see that from 1976 to 1990 the colony at Kleinzee grew by 161% despite massive culling taking place. SA ended the seal hunt in 1990. From 1990 to 2006 the colony only grew by 5%. Why?

    Simple. The quota is made up of 95% pups and 5% adult bulls. The pups are killed for their fur. The bulls for their penises. BUT… male pups are also targeted because their penises can also be sold. So at the end of a hunting season you are left with proportionately many more females than males. The trouble comes in because one bull can impregnate up to 40 females. So you are NOT reducing numbers you are causing the species to grow faster than normal. If you were serious about reducing the seal numbers you would target the breeding females. .

    Looking at Namibia, only 81 people are employed on a SEASONAL basis for 4 months of the year. An independent report by Australian firm “Economists at Large” clearly shows seal viewing based ecotourism could generate THREE HUNDRED times more revenue and create a wealth of job opportunities ALL YEAR round. Think I am talking S?

    Think again. Ticket sales from Hout Bay harbour to see the seals on Duiker island generate R10 million each year. (excluding curio sales from informal traders) The most money EVER generated from a Namibian seal hunt has been R4.5 million.

  • The Seals Of Nam > Thanks for all those unreferenced facts. I was suffering a shortage of hearsay, so this helps a lot.
    What are your feelings on the widespread massacre of fruit flies? Is it ok to kill them because there’s no profitable tourist industry attached to them? Do they kill fruit flies in Namibia?

  • It would create a handful of seasonal jobs (100, if that); very little money (the Namibian seal cull is kept alive by sheer force of will – demand for the fur is incredibly low and it must first be cured, treated and dyed to make it in any way a desireable commodity. It contributes 0.023 percent to the economy, which is even smaller than ours, and its industry is already oversaturated, with sealing companies unable to meet any of their quotas in about a decade), and it would likely damage our fish stocks instead of increasing them (studies show that removing the seals would leave our hake exposed to the cannibalism of a second hake species, which – now breeding uncontrollably because we’ve removed the seals – would overpopulate and destroy our most valuable fishery. It’s the very reason why in 1990 the department chose not to go ahead with a cull. The bunny huggers had very little to do with it).

  • kristenvanschie > Wait now, there’s a cannibalistic second hake species? Where is the issue here? Why can’t we just eat this better, stronger, faster hake?
    Seriously though, thank you for all the facts and figures, which I’m guessing came straight from the local government in question and not from some environmental group with any sort of agenda.
    But really, I’m so fed up of the argument that humans can’t be a driver for natural selection.